Donald Trump

Trump Considering TSA Budget Cuts, Higher Fees on Airline Passengers to Help Pay for Border Wall

But at least the TSA's totally useless behavioral detection program will face some cuts.


As the Trump Administration prepares its first federal budget, the White House reportedly is considering cuts to the Transportation Security Administration to help pay for the construction of the border wall with Mexico—and making airline passengers pay higher "security fees" to make up part of the difference.

Citing preliminary budget documents, Politico reports that the White House is considering budget cuts for TSA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Coast Guard as part of an effort to reshuffle the federal budget to pay for the wall. The TSA would face a $500 million budget reduction, Politico says, while FEMA would get a $375 million cut, and the Coast Guard's budget would be cut by $1.3 billion.

During the campaign, Trump promised to make Mexico pay for the construction of the border wall, but it's never been clear how he intends to make that happen. During his address to Congress last week, Trump didn't say anything about how to pay for the wall, but promised that it "will be started ahead of schedule and, when finished, it will be a very effective weapon against drugs and crime."

In reality, the wall would be a costly and mostly useless project. On net, it's certainly not worth spending $6 billion on Trump's vanity project just to get a $500 million cut in the TSA, but that doesn't mean those cuts aren't justified on their own.

For example, the TSA's budget cuts would include a $65 million reduction for the agency's totally useless behavioral detection officers.

A November 2012 audit by the Government Accountability Office found that, after 10 years of running its behavior detection program, the TSA could not demonstrate its effectiveness. The TSA even admitted that it did not have any way to measure whether the program worked, aside from counting "referrals to local law enforcement" (which turned out to be a list of people arrested for everything from unruly behavior to public drunkenness, the GOA found, but not a single instance of a legitimate national security threat).

"Until TSA can provide scientifically validated evidence demonstrating that behavioral indicators can be used to identify passengers who may pose a threat to aviation, the agency risks funding activities that have not been determined to be effective," the GAO concluded, using auditor-speak for "this program should be defunded."

Undeterred by the audit, the TSA is still using behavior detection officers (at an annual cost of around $200 million) and has expanded their use at some airports, seemingly in an attempt to prove their usefulness. Guidelines for the program, published in 2015 by The Intercept, show that the TSA's crack team of behavior-monitoring agents are told to identify potential threats (like Reason's Ron Bailey) who yawn too much, blink too little, breathe quickly, make eye contact with security personnel, or don't make eye contact with security personnel. Truly stunning that they haven't busted any terrorists with this pseudo-science, isn't it?

But wait, there's more bad news: Trump's preliminary budget calls for airline passengers to pay more to make up for a portion of the proposed TSA budget cuts. According to the Associated Press, the White House is considering a $1 increase to the "security fee" tacked onto all airline tickets.

Those fees currently are set at $5.60 per one-way flight, but would increase to $6.60. It would be the third increase in the fee since it was created, along with the TSA, in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Originally, it was a $2.50 per flight fee, before rising to the current level in 2014.

More than $3.6 billion in security fees were collected last year, but since 2013 about one-third of the revenue has been directed to non-security spending.

We'll end up paying more for no measureable increase in security. Hey, that's a pretty good metaphor for Trump's wall too.

NEXT: Feds Blame 'Self-Styled FOIA Terrorist' for Their Own Stonewalling

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  1. I guess i don’t understand why there is much focus on the president budget when it should be mainly on congress

    1. Because the president sends Congress a budget to start with every year. Not sure why.

      1. Yea but it isnt like it is really relevant. Didnt barry send ridiculous proposals that never went anywhere?

        1. Yeah, his budgets were declared DOA by his own party when they controlled Congress. Though they couldn’t be bothered to actually do one themselves.

      2. Why? Because the president is actually the head of the agencies, and he is supposed to know how much money they actually need to do their job.

        It’s like asking your gardener to send you a list of plants and equipment he’ll need to purchase for the upcoming year.

    2. Because this is a Republican in the WH, don’t stare at the rubber stamp.

      Anyone heard anything about the debt ceiling being reached in a couple of weeks? Oh wait, the CBO postponed it to Fall.

      OK, nothing to worry about. Debt and deficits no longer matter for now. Will do again for the Democrat in the WH in 2025.

      1. Uh that doesnt mean they will just give what he wants

      2. I’ve read articles from people complaining that we don’t spend enough because returns on treasury bonds aren’t what they used to be

      3. “OK, nothing to worry about. Debt and deficits no longer matter for now. Will do again for the Democrat in the WH in 2025.”

        Still pretty butt-hurt?
        You lost, loser.

      4. OK, nothing to worry about. Debt and deficits no longer matter for now. Will do again for the Democrat in the WH in 2025.

        Obama overspent by a trillion dollars every year and created massive programs and dependencies with that money. I don’t think we can just go cold turkey.

        I think we should privatize social security and medicare as well, and cut the budget for spy agencies and the military in half. That doesn’t mean I believe we can do that from one day to the next.

        In any case, I didn’t vote for Trump, but I still think he’s doing a better job than Obama did, or Hillary would have.

  2. Thank you/Fuck you, Trump!

  3. Border tax, airport tax, military buildup, I’m starting to think this Trump guy might not be a libertarian.

    1. Border tax not good. The airport while not ideal at least is a buck…tho it shouldnt exist imo. Military yea too much…needs cut by a few hundred billion

      Anyway seems silly to worry about the potus budget since it doesnt really go anywhere.

      1. No, its not a buck. Its a buck *increase* – its already over five dollars. Trump’s just trying to pump it up more.

        1. Well yea. But it isnt 3 dollars like 2014. Still like i said needs to go

    2. Check again. I have it on good authority that there is nothing more libertarian than closed borders, high tariffs, a robust corporatist military, and a burgeoning police state.

      1. When did closed borders get implemented or is this hyperbole?

        1. Japan does as pretty good job. Most open borders place would be the US. Every other country doesn’t let foreign invaders arrive and take their shit. Well, Europe’s doing it now. But then, we do need to emulate Europe to please Hugh.

          1. Japan is facing population collapse. In a few decades, they might not have enough people to run their trains. Only immigration will save them.

          2. Japan does not do a pretty good job at all.

            Their government deliberately maintains a massively inefficient small-retail sector in order to ‘provide jobs’ for people at retirement age and MITI’s policies devastated them in the 90’s – something which they’re only just now out of.

            That’s not considering there demographic collapse – you think young US millennials are weird and sexless, look at young Japanese. This is the land of the pillow boyfriend.

      2. I have it on good authority that there is nothing more libertarian than closed borders, high tariffs, a robust corporatist military, and a burgeoning police state.

        Which, of course, has nothing to do with Trump’s policies.

    3. This guy agrees! Sort of.

      Trump’s ‘libertarianism’ endangers the public

      Trump is a big fan of Ayn Rand. Like her fictional hero John Galt in “Atlas Shrugged,” he wants to free business from the heavy hand of government. But this is an oddly distorted libertarianism, in which Rand’s villains masquerade as her heroes: those who talk most of liberty are the looters and moochers.

      Conservatives worry about “regulatory capture”: the danger that regulators will abandon the public interest at the behest of regulated industries, keeping prices high and stifling competition. The solution is to get rid of regulation: the state should butt out and let the market operate. There’s no doubt that capture has sometimes happened. A notorious example is the Civil Aeronautics Board: after it was abolished in 1985, airline competition intensified and prices plunged.

      There is, however, another way in which unworthy special interests can seize control of government. They can work to cripple regulation, so that they can hurt and defraud people. Libertarian rhetoric has turned out to be a rich resource for them.

      1. So if you are looking to hurt and defraud people then regulation will stop it? There are laws to punish fraud

        Who wrote this? Link no work

      2. Because they have less restrictions then they are mooching? What?

      3. I’ve never once heard him say anything about Ayn Rand. I also doubt he reads anything. FAKE NEWS!

        1. He mentioned her in passing in one interview once. I think it was one of his usual, “Oh yeah, big fan of X. X does good work” bits of jazz. That makes him an Objectivist for life.

        1. Phony libertarianism wtf. Is this person a lib in opinion piece? Only liberals like to use endangers the public argument therefore we need to pile on regs

        2. What a dishonest hack. They arent free to hurt people because there are reduced regs. He talked about keeping health and safety. Also environmental.

          THis guy calls obama more of a libertarian

          1. “That immunizes regulations from capture, and makes sure that regulators take account of just what worries Trump, the cost to businesses. The overall net value — benefits minus costs — of Obama’s regulations was upward of $100 billion.”

            1. “The overall net value — benefits minus costs — of Obama’s regulations was upward of $100 billion.”

              I haven’t looked, but it’s an odds-on bet that “Feeling safer ’cause gov’t” was valued at $200B, so the actual costs of $100B were easily offset.

      4. There is, however, another way in which unworthy special interests can seize control of government

        Put Democrats into power?

    4. Ya think?

      I never considered Trump as anything close to a libertarian (or Libertarian) or even an actual Republican. IMO, he’s more of a Democrat lite. I don’t support his foolishness in the least and believe he is only slightly better for the USA than Hillary would have been. I may be proved wrong (either way), but I wouldn’t bet my paycheck on it.

      1. Thats the funny thing he is more of a dem

  4. I guess when did it come to mind that trump was a libertarian? I missed that.

    It was either him or hillary realistically and hillary was much worse imo

    Trump at least will do some libertarian things while hillary is terrible across the board

    1. You are obviously a liberanarchotrumpkins.

    2. Yes, we can call this innovative funding for the “The Great Libertarian Wall”

  5. But at least the TSA’s totally useless behavioral detection program will face some cuts.
    Way to spin it as a positive for Drumpf!

    Say, any chance doing something like that about the ~ $578 billion defense spending bill that passed, like, recently? I mean that’s like more than the $2 billion appropriated for this killer wall.

    “Well, at least it is not an increase from December!”

  6. This afternoon during the Fox News show “Outnumbered”, the Harvard educated economist (and former child TV star) Melissa Francis said that there are so many ways that Mexico can be made to pay for this wall, which she proceeded to enumerate and which, curiously, none mean “Mexico pays” but they sure mean YOU mutherfuckers pay. Yet she’s the economist…

    Better clinch your buttocks very hard because you’re getting screwed DEEP and HARD by El Trumpo.

    1. Oh, they were talking about the budget cuts on the TSA, the Coast Guard and the NSA to pay for the wall. Trumoistas still think that Mexico is gojng to pay for it.

      1. The wall is a waste of money and i dont support but acting like something that costs 20 billion will be felt good and hard is a bit delusional seeing how the fed gov spends 4 trillion a year

      2. OldMex,
        With some exceptions, you’re preaching to the choir.
        Most here (seems to me) are simply relieved the hag was sent home. But the left’s response to Trump makes me (and others) wish I DID vote for the blow-hard. SCREW the whiny bastards and bastets; the more Trump causes them pain, the more I hope he continues!
        The wall is stupid, excluding ambitious people is stupid, presuming the wall will be built at no cost to the US taxpayers is stupid, Trump is stupid.
        But watching the lefties dance to his tune is amusing. In SF, I get a front-row seat.

      3. They could end the War on Drugs – that ought to free up a lot of cash.

        And while I’m pro-immigration, I’m willing to compromise here – end the WoD and go build that wall.

  7. I didn’t realize the TSA and all airline passengers were Mexican. Hmm, learn something new every day.

  8. For example, the TSA’s budget cuts would include a $65 million reduction for the agency’s totally useless behavioral detection officers.

    Fuck the TSA. Cut their entire budget out.

  9. I will point out again that before 9/11 you could buy an airplane ticket at the counter with cash, show your driver’s license, and get directly on a plane.

    There will come a time when no one alive will remember this.

    It’s interesting that during the 1970’s and late ’60s there were several airplanes hijacked to Cuba. But this didn’t result in a massive buildup in airport security. People from communist countries were not generally allowed to travel freely in the US either, whether they themselves were commies or not.

    But now, during the Long War against radical Islamists, it is sign of virtue to complain about vetting the travel plans of Muslims from countries were radical Islam is prevalent, expect for Saudi Arabia.

    1. There was a time when you could walk on board a plane carrying a gun and no one would even blink an eye.

    2. “I will point out again that before 9/11 you could buy an airplane ticket at the counter with cash, show your driver’s license, and get directly on a plane.”

      In the mid ’70s, Pacific States Airlines (good ‘ol PSA) flew from SFO to LAX on the hour each way. You walked up, plopped down $30 as I recall, and got on the airplane in whatever seat was not occupied.
      It was an intra-state airline, so maybe there were more federal rules even then.

      1. You could do the same from LAX to Miami for $99. Ft. Lauderdale was $129, a premium for flying to the less popular destination. I don’t recall any beefed-up federal regulations that impacted me.

        But you bring up an interesting point about air travel. What if California, for example, opted out of TSA enforcement on intrastate airline flights. The LAX to SFO corridor is very popular. Sanctuary airlines!

        1. “What if California, for example, opted out of TSA enforcement on intrastate airline flights.”

          Southwest started as intrastate in TX, which allowed Kelleher to thumb his nose at the FAA until flying was de-regg’d. By that time, they’d developed the low-cost bizz model and I think they still do better than most.
          Not sure if you can replicate that, since the ‘sanctuary airline’ would have gates (if they could get them) inside the TSA perimeter.
          (Hey, am soc! Notice how many airplanes crashed after de-reg? Me neither!)

        2. That was kind of a joke. California politicians are on a rampage about providing sanctuaries for immigrants of all stripes, but not for its tax-paying middle-class citizens. It will never happen.

          1. Sarc meter’s in the shop for adjustment.

    3. Before 96 you did not even need ID,just cash.

      The crap that we put up with travel today is pretty much exactly what we were told made the Soviets so terrible, whether it’s an internal passport, or a governmentally issued ID, it’s about the same thing. I’m not sure if they had “no fly” lists, so maybe we’ve gone them one better.

      So glad we won the cold war!

  10. “Warrior women’ in Bay Area leave desks to demand equality”…..986735.php

    Yep, clear, in the ’60s today. You have to be mighty brave to leave your desk in SF on such a day, go to a rally and shout “Trump is a Big Poopyhead”.
    I’m trying to find a reason to be impressed and so far haven’t.

    1. The population of San Francisco alone in about 1 million. The metropolitan area is about 10 million.

      The headline;

      “A Day Without a Woman rallies unite thousands in Bay Area and beyond.”

      Some numeracy is order in here. Further on:

      “At UC Berkeley in the late morning, a couple hundred women of all ages…”

      1. More:
        This is the Chron; the Chron lies. I drove by a ‘protest’ at the Federal building some years ago; there were perhaps 25 people there. The Chron claimed “hundreds” (it was an anti-Bush protest).
        The Chron runs a feature on that web site entitled “TRUMP TODAY: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW” as if…
        The Chron has decided to become a thorn in Trumps side, except it is such a pathetic rag that Trump
        ignores it.
        So: “At UC Berkeley in the late morning, a couple hundred women of all ages…”, presume a tenth.

  11. Truly stunning that they haven’t busted any terrorists with this pseudo-science, isn’t it?

    Ah, but how many *potential* terrorists have they busted?

    1. Can we ban church bells too? Because I’d love to be able to sleep in on Sunday morning with all that loud clanging.

  12. Coast Guard’s budget would be cut by $1.3 billion

    Okay, so even if we could build a giant wall along the Mexican border that would prevent anyone from sneaking in that way, wouldn’t it be mooted by the fact they can just take a boat around it because the coasts aren’t being patrolled anymore?

  13. Widget was comparing air travel from the 70’s and it reminded me of this this review of Days of Rage I just finished reading, which whilst a bit paranoid brings up this hard truth that puts things in to perspective.

    One thing that Burrough returns to in Days of Rage, over and over and over, is how forgotten so much of this stuff is. Puerto Rican separatists bombed NYC like 300 times, killed people, shot up Congress, tried to kill POTUS (Truman). Nobody remembers it.

  14. …and making airline passengers pay higher “security fees” to make up part of the difference.

    How dare I be treated like a common Mexican.

  15. During the campaign, Trump promised to make Mexico pay for the construction of the border wall

    In the words of Sean Spicer — or was it Kellyanne — we’re not supposed to obsess over his actual words, which are just words after all. Every president says words and stuff. Obama said words. Why aren’t we going after Obama and Hillary for their words? The lamestream media are hypocrites. Ooh, nice skirt, Ainsley!

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