airport security, American Conservative Union, Budget committee, civil liberties, enplanement, FAA, National Taxpayers Union; Airline, pat down, Pete Sepp, security fee, Sept. 11, the Transportation Security Administration, TSA, violate, X-ray scanners
TSA has been seeking an increase in the airport security fee, aka the 9/11 fee, that flyers see in the detail of the cost of an airline ticket. The way it works is that a flyer essentially pays $2.50 for each “enplanement” as defined by the FAA. An enplanement is essentially one way outbound, from origin to destination, or inbound, destination to origin. One enplanement includes any layovers where the traveler changes planes in en route as long as they are completed as one leg.
The number of FAA enplanements are essentially the same as the number of security screening since most travelers don’t exit security and return while waiting for a connection. While that may happen occasionally any additional screenings are insignificant relative to the roughly 730 million enplanements in that year.
Critics oppose raising the security fee since it will fund an even more bloated and wasteful TSA than we already have, whereas proponents of the fee argue that it will transfer some of TSA’s excessive costs to airlines and passengers instead of adding to the federal deficit. Surprisingly, both have valid arguments.
So what does TSA cost?
There were 730 million enplanements & screenings in 2012. The TSA budget for 2012 was $7.85 billion. Therefore the cost per screening worked out to be $10.74 each of which the customer contributed $2.50, leaving $8.24 to be paid by taxpayers whether they ever fly or not.
The taxpayer contribution for TSA screening in 2012 totaled just over $6 billion, which essentially represents a subsidy for airlines and flyers. When that $6 billion is distributed over the roughly 300 million Americans, every man, woman and child, ends up paying $20.04 per year to fund TSA, whether they like it or not.
The alternative? Both sides should consider transferring all of the TSA costs back to the airlines where it was before 9/11. TSA can remain in the airports if Congress so chooses, but the costs should be borne by the airlines and passengers who reap whatever perceived “benefits” they receive from this corrupt and bloated agency. Perhaps if they had to pay the bill they would collectively press for reform or replacement of this failed agency.
Conservatives: No TSA Tax Hike: By Keith Laing – The Hill December 05, 2013
Conservative groups are warning congressional budget negotiators not to increase the airline ticket fees that pay for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
The chairmen of the respective House and Senate Budget committees, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), are rumored to be considering an increase in the security fee from $2.50 per trip to $5 to raise revenue for a broader government funding deal.
The proposal has been included previous proposals to reduce the federal deficit, but airlines have resisted it, arguing it would result in higher ticket prices.
This time, conservative groups are sounding the alarm before the proposal is even made in a budget agreement.
“A bipartisan agreement that addresses unsustainable entitlement programs, keeps spending in check, and simplifies our convoluted tax laws would certainly be welcome news,” National Taxpayers Union Vice President for Communications and Policy Pete Sepp wrote this week in an op-ed on the conservative website TownHall.com.
Airline passengers have been paying a security fee on their flight ticket purchases since the inception of the TSA after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The agency has become a lightning rod for conservative critics, who argue that TSA’s airport security techniques, such as pat-down hand searches and X-ray scanners, violate people’s civil liberties.
Sepp questioned the TSA’s effectiveness in his op-ed. “While we can all agree that transportation security is of the upmost importance, can TSA really get the job done,” he wrote. “Americans deserve an answer to this question from their leaders.
“Between 2007 and 2012, TSA’s budget has increased by 18 percent with its workforce also growing by 13 percent. Over the same period of time, the number of customers being screened decreased by 75 million people or roughly 11 percent. This budget boost cannot be justified when compared to the slowing demand for its services.”
Other conservative groups have joined the campaign to stop an increase in the airline security fees.
“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,” American Conservative Union Chairman Stephen DeMaura wrote last week in an article on the website RedState.com.
“[The TSA] 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,” DeMaura wrote.
“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.”