Bogus TSA fee hikes should be stopped

You have heard this story before. The federal government is looking for more money to help fund an unaccountable agency and its ludicrous and wasteful programs.

This chapter is about the TSA. Recent reports suggest part of any future budget deal may include revenue boosters in the form of “increased Transportation Security Administration fees and money generated from wireless spectrum sales, according to sources in both parties.”

The push is coming from the likes of Democratic Senator Patty Murray and Republican budget star and 2012 VP nominee Rep. Paul Ryan, yet it’s a deeply misguided waste of bipartisan efforts.

Just last year the TSA brought in some $2.3 billion in tax revenue from both airlines and investors, an amount tallying a full 100 percent hike since its 2002 formation. It reaps around $400 million annually solely from airlines, expanding its workforce and budget but decreasing the number of passengers screened by 11 percent over the last six years.

With that number decreasing, why has its budget grown by 18 percent and workforce by 13 percent over the same time? Furthermore, why would upping the TSA’s fees be considered a viable option in any budget deal, given numbers such as these?

For an example of the waste purveying the system, look no further than the ineffective implementation of its SPOT program, aimed at profiling behavior as a means for identifying suspect passengers.

Carrying a $200 million a year cost, with 3,000 behavior detection officers at 176 airports, its Government Accountability Office reported failure is the definition of bureaucratic waste.

It’s in this backdrop that Washington continues to rear its head of expanding the costs for messes such as this, and it’s damaging the competitiveness of domestic airlines at home.

Just last week, state-owned airlines in the Middle East tallied $162.6 billion worth of airline purchases, which the Airline Pilots Association noted is an illustration of “the staggering scale of the economic threat to the U.S. airline industry and its employees if the U.S. government continues policies that hand foreign competitors an economic advantage over U.S. airlines in the global marketplace.”

Rather than hiking fees on airlines and the taxpayers who depend on their services, the politicians in Washington should be looking for meaningful ways to cut costs and empower an industry weighed down by government edicts.

We should be stopping waste, not enlarging the wallets of those behind it all. Any budget deal that does the opposite is no deal at all.