It wasn't just that Oberstar pushed into law a host of new rules and guidelines, many of which were counterproductive and some of which were down right disastrous (predictably down right disastrous). It's also that he made airlines jump through a lot of unnecessary hoops and sit through a lot of pointless hearings, in the sense that everybody was just going through the motions. It was kind of tiring to watch Congress play tough for constituents during the Continental/United merger for instance, given that the merger was all but a lock.
Oberstar's ouster squares with a more general antipathy toward regulation that we'll see in the incoming Republican House, so this is one of those places where the macro dynamics square nicely with what's happening seat-by-seat.
On the other hand, the American tourism industry isn't likely to see many policy changes. Here we're talking about: fining tourists in order to promote tourism. "Promoting tourism" for our Congress has meant funneling money into ads and programs that boost "Las Vegas-style tourism," which is what you'd expect since the Senate Majority Leader hails from Nevada. Sen. Reid was reelected and the Senate didn't flip, so he'll continue as Majority leader.
We're not even sure how much things would have changed with tourism promotion anyway. Congress isn't going to stop supporting it, and for political purposes "tourism" means "what the hotel and restaurant lobby says is tourism." Conclusion: no change.
The more things change, apparently, the more they stay the same.
[Photo: Will Brady / Wiki Commons]