Image 01 Image 03

Trump Pivots to Infrastructure, including Privatizing Air Traffic Control

Trump Pivots to Infrastructure, including Privatizing Air Traffic Control

“infrastructure week”

Obamacare repeal and tax reform seem to be in political limbo for the moment. In the meantime, Trump is moving forward with his plan to improve infrastructure.

John Wagner reports at the Washington Post:

Trump plans week-long focus on infrastructure, starting with privatizing air traffic control

President Trump will seek to put a spotlight on his vows to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system and spur $1 trillion in new investment in roads, waterways and other infrastructure with a weeklong series of events starting Monday at the White House.

The events — billed as “infrastructure week” — are part of a stepped-up effort since the president’s return a week ago from his first foreign trip to show that the White House remains focused on its agenda, despite cascading headlines about investigations into his administration’s ties to Russia.

The president has invited executives from major airlines to join him as he kicks off the week with one of his more controversial plans: spinning off the air traffic control functions of the Federal Aviation Administration to a nonprofit corporation.

It’s an idea that’s been tried many times before dating back to the Clinton administration and most recently last year in legislation championed by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation Committee. His bill never made it to the Senate, where several key GOP members resisted the idea of transferring government assets to a corporation.

Of course, this has much to do with jobs, one of Trump’s favorite focal points.

Roberta Rampton of Reuters:

Trump to hit the road for a jobs-focused reset in tough week

President Donald Trump will hit the road next week to ramp up his long-promised plan to overhaul the nation’s aging airports, roads and railways, a push that could energize his supporters and distract from political intrigue in Washington.

The infrastructure push – which will include a trip to Cincinnati, Ohio – comes as the White House seeks to refocus attention on core promises to boost jobs and the economy made by Trump last year during his campaign for office…

During his campaign, Trump promised a 10-year, trillion-dollar program to modernize decrepit infrastructure – a plan that holds bipartisan appeal because of its job-creating potential, and that will require backing from the U.S. Congress.

Legislative wins have eluded Trump thus far. He kicked off his policy push with healthcare and tax reform, initiatives that have become bogged down in process and controversy. The infrastructure push will offer some fresh ideas for the White House and lawmakers alike to discuss.

This is going to present a challenge to Trump and Congressional Republicans who aren’t usually big on infrastructure spending. After the healthcare debacle however, Trump could use a legislative victory.

Democrats will probably hate the idea just because it’s Trump’s but what else is new?


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


From what I’ve read about the privatization of the ATC system, it involves handing ownership of it over to the Air Traffic Controllers Union.

It may sound good in theory, but the actual plans I’ve read sound less than impressive, to put it mildly.

Infrastructure = as long as it’s done in the rust belt states that voted for Trump, other than that forget it. No gifts to dem states or dem cities, they haven’t earned it and they won’t return any thanks for it. May sound crass, but that’s how politics works – reward your faithful friends, starve your enemies.

    PrincetonAl in reply to Tom Servo. | June 4, 2017 at 11:58 am

    The original bill was a union giveaway. Shuster, the so-called Republican from PA who sponsored the bill, allegedly has a personal relationship with Shelly Rubino, the lobbyist pushing for many of the provisions. Nothing to see here.

    The whole thing stinks of D.C. stagnant swamp water. Shuster is a despicable rat of a Congressman who barely won in a red district when a tea party reformer ran as a Democrat to get him out.

    Make no doubt – many countries like Canada have privatized parts of the FAA like ATC successfully and it can be done. And done right, I am in favor of it.

    But if this were really about making more government more efficient and responsive you would hear endless gnashing of teeth and wailing – but you don’t. Which means the taxpayer is being carved up again (this time in the form of higher travel fees) by Congresscritters and lobbyists.

    This is where I do worry that Trump needs some help. His push for infrastructure investment will create plenty of opportunities for this kind of D.C. Swamp-thing corruption that we have been fighting Republican establishment forever on. It’s one thing to create some good infrastructure projects in the right states and say it’s a necessary part of the game. I get that, no problem.

    It’s another to create corrupt structures in perpetuity on the back of this kind of stink- lobbyists sleeping with Congressman to get big bucks for their union cronies. Ugh.

atc is an issue that must be carefully considered before uprooting it. not saying either public/private is better, just that due to standardizations you have to be very careful before altering.
and having worked with faa for number of years I am not sure they are up to the task of monitoring the training of the controllers.
however handing it over to the union is a horrible idea.

Maybe but I doubt it. I’m sure there have been some proposals but the only one that counts is Trump’s.

I worked for 5 years on a project of partly (substantially) privatize a major US airport. In that case, the airlines negotiated what they wanted with the government. No assets changed hands, just who put up the money and how much, control over management of the property and how revenues were divided.

Since the consortium of airlines were interested in taking the risk of building a bigger facility than the government was, the long-term lease was loaded with revenue guarantees up front and incentives should specific goals and objectives be met down the road. They created a jointly-owned corporation to oversee the design and construction which later changed to lawyers and accountants to negotiate contracts for tenants and service providers and an accounting team for tracking and reporting. The government remained (to this day) in charge. Everyone benefited from this arrangement including the taxpayer.

I’m guessing that Trump may be looking at such an arrangement. I can’t think of too many assets that could change hands but I am absolutely positive that the airlines are not interested in owning all of the risk and cost of traffic control. The government will always be the regulator responsible for safety and efficiency and will bear a big chunk of the cost. But it can be made much more efficient by allowing the airlines to be involved. And more profitable for everyone too.

We have funded “infrastructure rebuilding” since the stimulus plan was passed in 2009, to the tune of almost a trillion dollars a year; thanks to CRs instead of budgets. Where is that money going? Trump is smart enough to know that it is still being funded, why is he asking for more money?

herm2416 | June 4, 2017 at 12:20 pm
We have funded “infrastructure rebuilding” since the stimulus plan was passed in 2009, to the tune of almost a trillion dollars a year; thanks to CRs instead of budgets. Where is that money going? Trump is smart enough to know that it is still being funded, why is he asking for more money?


If an actual budget gets passed and not a continuing resolution then the 986B “stimulus” will not be spent each year. That “stimulus package” has been spent every year due to the fact that Obama NEVER had a budget. The last budget was signed by Bush.

The continuing resolution baselined the budget including what was supposed to be a one time stimulus of the economy. So in essence a 1 trillion dollar slush fund was set up for Obama to play with each year, money we didn’t have.

If only we had some kind of watch dog group who would ask questions about such dealings to tell the people the truth. I thought we might discover we had such a group after Jan 20. After all, there is an “R” in the White House. /s

Silly me.

I am dead set against “Privatizing”. What that really means is charging private pilots directly for ATC services rather then via fuel taxes (19.4c per gallon for 100LL). It would absolutely kill general aviation to charge pilots $35 each time they land or file a flight plan. This morning, for example, I went up and did four touch and go landings just to have some fun and stay proficient. That cost me about $20 in fuel, of which $1.40 was federal taxes. A lot of us would have to give up flying altogether if this foolish idea were ever to become law.

    Merlin in reply to snopercod. | June 5, 2017 at 10:27 am

    The FAA has been successfully contracting ATC at level 1 and 2 facilities for years already. Their controllers and supervisors are not FAA academy products, although they are required to hold an FAA Control Tower Operator’s license and operate in accordance with FAA Order 7110.65 just like the real guys.

None of this strikes me as being anywhere in the list of Top Ten problems sitting in the Federal government’s “In” basket.

Privatization should at least be studied, in the context of privatized prisons. (California’s government prison guards blindly fund the democrat party with very big money, in exchange for very big pensions at 50 – and these pensions inure to guards’ children (I know of a 27 year old woman who will get her father’s prison guard pension for life (her father died, off-duty, after retirement, while she was an adult.))

The idea will be to keep SEIU out. Even if the government stays in the air traffic control business, SEIU still can have inroads.

The bottom line here is that we now have Republican leadership in every branch of the government. The problem now isn’t the democrats, but the GOPe.

BIG GOVERNMENT can “privatize” in some VERY bad ways.

IFFFFFF privatization takes the form of a market-driven system, fine. It will TEND to be vastly better and more efficient.

OTOH, the “privates” could be Crony, Inc. This could be awful.

Remember that facist economics APPEARS to be a “private-sector” deal, but the enterprise remains under the control of the central government. See AMTRAK.

buckeyeminuteman | June 5, 2017 at 5:02 pm

The stimulus package was a total waste. Why privatize ATC when you’re just going to give a bunch a federal money to other private industries. Leave well enough alone.