I’ve been critical of Rep. Bill Shuster’s air traffic control “privatization” plan, most recently adopted as a pet project of Gary Cohn. A true privatization would have its merits but the bottom line with this one is it’s being pursued by a Transportation Committee Chairman who is in a long-term romantic relationship with the chief corporate backer of the plan’s chief lobbyist. Set aside all the other issues, and that’s a big fat red flag.
Anyway, it looks like the plan might be in trouble, yet again, and the latest reason is a fresh round of conservative opposition. As of yesterday, the American Conservative Union is asking Shuster to pull the bill:
The American Conservative Union Foundation is calling on Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) to withdraw his FAA bill, saying it does not align with the group’s Seven Principles of Privatization.
The group analyzed the bill, H.R. 2997 (115), for comparison against its principles and said its effort to shift air traffic control to a nonprofit entity meets only two, and those only partially.
And it noted the bill would force the new board of directors to “accept existing union contracts.”
The bill already has generated criticism from Grover Norquist on the basis that it could result in tax increases, and from other conservative groups like the Center for Individual Freedom. Shuster’s also been making noises that, reading between the lines, sound like he just may not have the votes, because Democrats don’t want to play ball with a Republican Transportation Committee Chairman, and conservatives hate the fact that the air traffic controllers’ union is on board with the plan because, guess what, it treats their compensation and benefits as untouchable. The DoD has also been less than enthusiastic about the plan, so national security hawks have doubts there, too.
In a couple of days, the bill will probably come up for a vote unless Shuster accedes to ACU’s request and pulls it. But he probably won’t. After all, he’s got to keep his girlfriend happy, right?