President George W. Bush’s former chief strategist Matthew Dowd on Sunday lashed out at Congress for moving so quickly to fund air traffic controllers because lawmakers were personally "about to get delayed at the airports," while they couldn't pass background checks to protect children from mass shootings.
During a panel discussion on ABC's This Week, Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile noted that Congress had rushed through a bill to avert air traffic controller furloughs caused by automatic budget cuts in the so-called sequester, but ignored the pain the cuts were causing less-wealthy Americans.
"This sequester will have real impact on real people in real time, not just members of Congress, but people that work for the park service, medical research as the NIH begin to make those cuts, it's impacting Meals on Wheels, kids who are in kindergarten," Brazile explained. "So I really do think that Congress needs to take a second look at this."
Former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, however, called the air traffic controller bill "a real victory for fiscal conservatism" because Congress moved funds around, instead of undoing any budget cuts.
"Doesn't that mean the politically weakest are going to bear the biggest burden?" ABC host George Stephanopolous wondered.
"Not necessarily," Gingrich insisted. "It may mean the most corrupt are going to bear the biggest burden. It may mean the dumbest are going to bear the biggest burden. When you look at a $4 trillion government, you can find lots of really stupid things to quit paying for."
But Dowd found it "amazing" that the bitterly partisan Congress could only find a way to work together when they personally faced the possibility of spending some additional time on the tarmac.
"The only way they're bipartisan is to do something for themselves," he quipped. "It's amazing the speed at which they did that. We have this horrible shooting where all these children die in Connecticut, we can't pass gun control legislation. But oh by the way, you're about to get delayed at the airport through some small budget cuts -- which I still don't understand why we make policy the way we make policy. Everybody knows there's a fiscal crisis in this country, everybody knows we don't have the revenue to meet the expenses in this country, somebody has to bear pain, but we act in Washington like nobody has to bear any pain. So as soon as anybody bears any pain, we're going to take it back from them."
"I think many members of Congress have bought into a myth that doesn't exist anymore," he added. "I think most of what's gong on in gun control is there's not this huge vehement group of people saying I'm going to defeat you if you vote for background checks, I'm going to defeat you if you vote for high-capacity magazines... What there is, though, is a group of folks in Washington that are scared of their shadow on this issue, both some Democrats and a lot of Republicans."
"The myth doesn't exist anymore, but they're afraid to go launch themselves through it and do something about it."