Budget cuts hit home

It may not be a good thing that Congress can't deal with budgets, deficits or taxes but no one should be surprised that it can't.

Because this is what most people think about taxes, government and the national debt:

Reduce the debt and balance the budget but don't raise taxes, unless they're raised on someone else; cut government services but only those that don't affect me.

Consider US Airways. In a conference call in the fall of 2011, the airline's president, Scott Kirby, warned about proposed tax increases, saying that "one of the ways to really stimulate economic activity is to not tax this industry quite as heavily and certainly don't add any new taxes."

This week, as flights were delayed or canceled because air traffic controllers were on furlough because of the sequester, US Airways CEO Doug Parker weighed in. "It's just such terrible policy," he said, "we can handle it for a little while, but it can't continue."

But how to stop it considering that the Federal Aviation Administration, which employs the controllers, had to take a $600 million cut and that salaries make up 70 percent of its budget?

US Airways, with the largest share of business at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., has taken a double whammy because spending cuts meant fewer federal workers were flying.

The airline is not unique in either its point of view or in the dilemma it faces. It's as if the entire nation is standing in a circle pointing to the next person as the one who should both pay more taxes and get fewer services to reduce the debt.

It's a tough business reducing the debt because shrinking government is a great idea, until it's not.