If I'm catching USA Today writer Thomas Frank's drift, he thinks that aviation activity beyond the "139 well-known commercial airports that handle almost all passenger flights" isn't worth the bother of the federal government.
It would be interesting, but dangerous and impractical to test his thesis. There are about 5,000 airports in the U.S that are eligible for, and, quite rightly, receive federal funding. By Frank's metrics, they're wasting taxpayers' dollars because they do nothing to ensure he can get from New York to L.A. in the manner to which he is accustomed.
OK. So rather than let the slow rot of underfunding do its cruel and painful work, let's just close the airports that aren't pulling their weight. God help Frank if he has a heart attack, needs to ship something overnight or wants to cash a check. Fortunately, most people understand the value of general aviation even if they don't understand how it works very well.
Frank's job is to understand his topics and provide balance. In this case, he does neither.