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  • TSA Security Changes

    Understanding the Trump Administration’s Proposed Changes to TSA Security

    The Trump administration released a federal budget proposal earlier this month, and the proposal had some changes that would affect the TSA and airline travelers. While some groups are critical of Trump’s proposals, others welcome the change as a way to improve travel security.

    The first change Trump wants to make is raising the TSA fees for every one-way airline ticket from $5.60 to $6.60 starting on October 1, 2018. That means that for every round trip flight you take, your ticket will cost $2 extra. That may not sound like much, but it amounts to an additional $2 billion annually coming out of passenger’s pockets.

    A trade group that represents domestic airlines called Airlines for America is opposed to the tax hike, saying that it will hurt both businesses and passengers.

    But airports themselves are in favor of the tax increase, saying that it really isn’t that big of an increase and that it would help them make much-needed safety updates and renovations that would improve TSA security.

    The other part of Trump’s budget proposal that is causing some uncertainty among travelers is his plan to sell several federally-owned airports to private companies. The airports that Trump has in mind include both National and Dulles International in Washington D.C. If the proposal were to make it through Congress, it’s not yet clear what the impact on travelers would be.

    The first trick, of course, would be finding companies interested in buying the airports. Trump’s belief is that private companies would be able to run the airports more efficiently, making them safer, better, and less expensive for travelers. But detractors argue that private businesses, unlike the government, are as a matter of course more interested in making a profit than in providing a public service. The big worry is that passengers will end up spending much more for the same or perhaps even worse service, and they won’t be able to shop around for a better option, because when it comes to airports, you’re stuck with what’s around you.

    This is the big fear with Trump’s overall approach to infrastructure updates, which airports are a part of. His budget proposes spending $200 billion in infrastructure investments with the goal of generating $1.5 trillion in investment from private companies. This isn’t a new idea. Private companies have handled the construction and operation of toll roads around the country, military bases, and a significant portion of our country’s prisons. It always sounds like a good idea, but as we know from our broken prison system in particular, things rarely work out the way you hope when private companies get involved with government services.

    For a more in-depth look at what effect private investment in public infrastructure could have, check out this article from the New York Times.

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