Hey, Who's Up for a New TSA Security Fee So We Can Pay Down the National Debt?
You might remember last spring, when we threw something very close to a temper tantrum over TSA's request to increase the security fees that passengers pay with every ticket. We suggested that maybe the agency should stop wasting the money they already hadthe hike was floated right after TSA started rolling out gingerbread man scanners as replacements for their predictably rejected billion-dollar full-body scannersbefore they started coming after more of our money.
The idea that TSA is hopelessly wasteful was echoed this morning in a POLITICO story about the agency's budget, which included bits like "tendency to grab on to a new system before it's really validated" (no kidding) and "cycle of faulty equipment and failed programs" (everybody remember puffer machines?)
And yet that's not the most infuriating part of the story. It turns out that not only is an eventual $15 security fee increase back on the table, butweirdly, unbelievablyit's not even all going to be spent on airport security. Which is kind of weird, because with "security" right there in the name, you'd kind of think that's what it would be for.
The new idea is to increase the security fee $5 for a one-way trip immediately, and then to work up to $15 for a round-trip ticket by 2017. But then, buried in the middle of the POLITICO article, is this little tidbit: "the White House intends to put about $15 billion of the additional security fee revenue collected over a decade toward paying off the national debt."
So first, flyers are being told that they need to pay more of TSA's budget because current security fees simply aren't enough to cover the agency's habit of buying billion-dollar machines that either don't work or have to be junked within a few years. Then it turns out that the proposed fees won't all go to TSA anyway.
It's the most aggravating bait-and-switch imaginable: a new fee that shouldn't be necessary, that won't even cover what it was proposed to cover.
[Photo: Anaanalatte / Wiki Commons]