Last night was the Democrats sixth debate. I am sure everyone has their opinions on who won or lost. However, I am still undecided as to whether or not I support Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. I really didn’t see anything last night that changed my mind.
I think Hillary Clinton proved she is a more “polished” politician and debater than Bernie Sanders. Yet, the outcome for me is still in doubt. With that in mind, I am going to change course here and not talk about the debate anymore today.
Rather, I am going to talk about a bill that passed the House Transportation Committee yesterday. This bill called The AIRR [Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization] Act shows exactly what Republicans want to do with our government. Namely “privatize” it.
The bill will take away Air Traffic Control from the FAA and give it to a “private” organization instead. The major argument is that the FAA has been slow to upgrade to new technology and the “private” organization will do it better.
The Republicans don’t say that in order to upgrade technology it takes money. The one thing that they aren’t too good at giving the agency. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation committee said:
The AIRR [Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization] Act provides the transformational reform necessary to bring our antiquated air traffic system into the modern era, and allow America to lead the world again in aviation.
The Committee considered approximately 75 amendments during today’s meeting, and more than half of them were approved. Today’s open process led to many improvements to the legislation, and I look forward to moving ahead.
Democrats opposed the bill. Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) said:
Despite the many positive reforms included in this bill that will support a strong aviation system and its workers, I remain concerned about the proposal to hand over our airspace to private control.
Running a science experiment with the most complex airspace in the world comes with a lot of risk, including the uncertain futures of thousands of workers at FAA.
You may wonder who is behind this new bill. Why would the Republicans take control of our air space away from the FAA? The answer is very simple. It is the major airlines, except for Delta, that are pushing for this bill.
Under the bill, there will be a new board of directors managed by the airlines. There will be 11 seats on the board and four of those seats go directly to major Air Lines.
The top lobby for most major U.S. airlines has said the proposal to spin-off air traffic control from the FAA would bring the nation’s aviation system in line with countries such as Canada, which have similar not-for-private flight navigation organizations set up. Wow, that is a mouthful. I wonder why it is okay to follow Canada to use a private air traffic control but not for health care?
Airlines for America President Nicolas Calio said:
U.S. airlines connect the world like no other industry can and this legislation marks a historic step toward making our Air Traffic Control system the best it can be.
Delivering a more efficient system with proper governance, funding and accountability will bolster our nation’s first-rate safety record and make flying better – and at no additional cost to travelers.
Critics said the proposal to spin-off air traffic control from the FAA is a “misguided policy” that would give too much power to airlines, however. Julia Alschuler a spokesperson for Americans Against Air Traffic Privatization said:
Today we watched as over and over again Chairman Shuster refused to accept amendments to the AIRR Act that would give consumers and workers a fair seat at the table, implement protections against indiscriminate user fees on passengers and curb the power of the airlines over a private air traffic control board.
This bill is included in a funding measure that would spend $17 billion per year on the agency over the first three years. During that time the independent air traffic control organization will be set up. After that period, the FAA will see its budget slashed to approximately $6 billion to cover non-air traffic control functions at the FAA.
This bill is nothing more than the Republicans trying to let corporations “police” themselves. It will harm the safety of air travelers. It will probably also mean higher fares because the airlines will say they need more money to run the air traffic system.
Furthermore, it will place the major airlines in charge of our air space. That means non-commercial planes will be put at the back of the line when it comes traffic control. Groups supporting non-commercial pilots are against the bill as well as Democrats.
This bill is a perfect example of the Republican’s plans for our country. They plan to place all major agencies under “private” control. They plan to privatize air traffic control, they plan to privatize Social Security and Medicare, they plan to privatize our public schools, and they plan to privatize the Veterans Administration.
It is all part of their plan to take us back to the 1880s when there was no government oversight and safety laws. Corporations were responsible to “police” themselves. After all, they know what is best for their companies.
That is a policy that killed millions of people at work. And, it is the same policy that gave us the Great Depression and the economic meltdown just a few years ago.
With bills like this one, can we really count on the Republicans to “move the country forward” in the 21st Century? I think not!