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Monday, September 22, 2003

Bad Man of the Day: Rep. Don Young, R-AK

Lots of people are linking to this Atrios post. Don Young wants to privatize air traffic control, except for his home state, where he actually is concerned for his own safety:

"Speaking of contracting out, an administration move to privatize air traffic control at 69 airports has sparked opposition from labor groups, which contend it would compromise safety.

"The administration had proposed 71 airports, but House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska), who supports the effort, got someone to strike the two Alaska airports on the list.

"Young, on an Alaska cable TV show a week ago, acknowledged the move generated some heat.

"'Of course the criticism of myself,' he said, 'is that I exempted the state of Alaska.' But there were ample reasons for that, he said, ticking off a number of them.

"'Lastly,' Young said, 'my hotel room is on the top floor of the Sheraton, and the airplanes take right off towards my hotel room. Every morning I look out and there's one coming right at me. It's an interesting experience and I want to make sure everything is done right in that field.'"

Here are the full WaPo article and the TV show transcript.

This is the same Don Young who 60 Minutes implicated last night in a report that Alaska will be receiving $20 billion in unnecessary federal subsidies for a natural gas pipeline. It must be a rough week to answer the phone in chairman Young's office. Here's that transcript:

"'They want their route to be built. They're playing hardball. They've played hardball from day one on it,' says [Forrest] Hoglund [former Exxon and Enron exec, now of Arctic Resources]. 'They want the pipeline to come right down through the middle of the state. They want the jobs. They made a tremendous amount of money when the oil pipeline was built. And so it's just a mantra in Alaska.'

"And Alaska is getting its way, because even though it has one of the smallest populations, the state has inordinate clout in Congress. Its senator, Ted Stevens, chairs the Appropriations Committee, which controls the Federal purse strings. And Don Young, its only representative, runs the House Transportation Committee.

"'I think if you're really interested in having some highways in your state, you're not going to buck the chairman,' says Hoglund.

"In fact, the chairman's power is so great that the Republican Congress is even defying President Bush, who has publicly opposed the tax breaks and the price guarantee."

To be fair, the 60 Minutes piece makes Gov. Frank Murkowski look really bad via interview and just mentions Stevens and Young once.