Connect with us

America

Trump lays out plan to privatize air traffic control system

Published

on

Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) signs the air traffic control initiative at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 5, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

President Donald Trump outlined a plan on Monday to privatize the U.S. air traffic control system to modernize outdated systems and lower the cost of flying, but the proposal faced immediate criticism from Democrats.

Trump’s White House East Room announcement on air traffic control is part of a week-long push to publicize his plans to overhaul the country’s aging infrastructure as the White House confronts a growing probe into alleged ties between his campaign and Russia.

Trump described his plan as representing an “air travel revolution”, urging the U.S. Congress to separate it from the Federal Aviation Administration.

“We’re proposing reduced wait times, increased route efficiency and far fewer delays. Our plan will get you where you need to go quickly, more reliably, more affordably, and yes, for the first time in a long time, on time,” he said.

REFILE CORRECTING BYLINE U.S. President Donald Trump announces his initiative on air traffic control in the United States from the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S. June 5, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Executives from United Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines [HAII.UL], American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, which are all represented by Airlines for America, attended the Trump speech. The group praised the Trump plan.

The proposal to privatize the air traffic control system will encounter major hurdles in Congress where Democrats and some Republicans oppose it. Trump has frequently said that ongoing modernization efforts were already obsolete.

In a summary document released by the White House, the Trump administration proposes a three-year transition period to shift oversight of air traffic control.

The proposal says a board made up of airline, union and airport officials would oversee the non-profit entity. The new entity should honor existing labor agreements but controllers would no longer be federal employees.

The Federal Aviation Administration spends nearly $10 billion a year on air traffic control funded largely through passenger user fees, and has about 28,000 air traffic control personnel.

Image result for Federal Aviation Administration

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that Trump was recycling “a tired Republican plan that both sides of the aisle have rejected” and would “hand control of one of our nation’s most important public assets to special interests and the big airlines.”

“Today we are taking the first important step to clearing the runway for more jobs, lower prices and much, much, much better transportation,” Trump said.

On Wednesday, Trump will travel to Cincinnati to talk about improvements to the 12,000 miles (19,300 km) of inland waterways, dams, locks and ports critical for shipping farm products, and will deliver a speech about his vision for infrastructure.

The infrastructure push comes as the White House seeks to refocus attention on core promises to boost jobs and the economy made by Trump last year during his campaign for office.

Those pledges have been eclipsed by the political furor over Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. That drama will come to a head on Thursday when former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey, who was leading the Russia probe until Trump fired him, testifies before a U.S. Senate panel.

Trump has denied any collusion between Russia and his campaign. He has struggled to keep the spotlight on plans that could give him a political boost.

The infrastructure events this week were in the works before Comey’s hearing was scheduled. They will give Trump the opportunity to provide some counterprogramming to the drumbeat of Russia news.

Privatization advocates argue that spinning off air traffic control into a non-government entity would allow for a more efficient system and rapid, cost-effective improvements of technology, in part by avoiding the government procurement process.

Opponents, including Delta Air Lines, say the U.S. system is so large that privatization would not save money, and would drive up ticket costs and could create a national security risk. There also are concerns that airlines would dominate the private-company board and limit access to airports by business jets. Most airlines back the plan.

The administration’s formal budget proposal unveiled in May that included plans to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system would boost the budget deficit by about $45 billion over 10 years.

 

America

Trump calls US court system ‘unfair’ after ‘Dreamers’ ruling: AFP

Published

on

Donald Trump

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — US President Donald Trump lashed out Wednesday at the US judicial system as “broken and unfair” after a judge blocked his decision to end a program that protects so-called “Dreamers” from deportation.

Earlier, the White House had called the ruling Tuesday by US District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco “outrageous,” coming the same day Trump met lawmakers from both camps on the so-called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

“It just shows everyone how broken and unfair our Court System is when the opposing side in a case (such as DACA) always runs to the 9th Circuit and almost always wins before being reversed by higher courts,” Trump said in a tweet.

The DACA program, instituted by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama in 2012, protects from deportation hundreds of thousands of immigrants who arrived in the country illegally as children.

Continue Reading

America

American aid cuts to Pakistan won’t change its policy toward terrorism

Published

on

American aid cuts to Pakistan

On Thursday, the State Department announced a freeze on most of Washington’s security aid to Pakistan. The decision won’t torpedo the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, as a rupture in relations would more likely result from a more drastic measure, such as designating Pakistan as a state sponsor of terror.

Still, a fragile partnership already on tenterhooks will now grow ever more tenuous, especially because cutting aid to the Pakistanis is unlikely to compel them to crack down on the terrorists that target American troops in Afghanistan. In other words, Pakistan won’t do what America wants it to do. That’s because Pakistan’s links to the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network, groups based in Pakistan that stage attacks in Afghanistan, serve longstanding national interests that are all but immutable.

Consider that these groups push back against the presence of Pakistan’s archenemy, India, in Afghanistan. The Taliban and Haqqani network may be fighting Afghan and American troops, but they’re also virulently anti-Indian and have attacked Indian targets in Afghanistan. Pakistan views India as an existential threat, and as the less powerful of the two, it must rely on asymmetric means to push back against India. Using non-state militant actors against its fearsome foe serves that purpose.
Additionally, Pakistan rightly believes U.S. forces will eventually leave Afghanistan. Amid the large-scale destabilization, including civil war, that may ensue, Pakistan wants to ensure it retains influence with and ties to the Taliban, arguably the most powerful non-state actor in Afghanistan. So the very terrorists that America wants Pakistan to eliminate are embraced by Pakistan as assets to be deployed against India, and as hedges against an eventual U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

For Pakistan, ties to terrorists amount to a strategic imperative. Being deprived of aid, even hundreds of millions of dollars of it, won’t change this calculus. It’s not as if the aid suspension will deliver a devastating blow to Pakistan. It can compensate by tapping into its deep security partnerships with Saudi Arabia and China. Pakistan has weathered previous U.S. aid suspensions, and this time around should be no different.

It’s hard to say what can be done to change Pakistan’s policy toward terrorists. The Trump administration has suggested it may resort to punitive actions that go beyond aid cuts. The implication is that draconian measures could eventually bring Pakistan to its knees and cause it to capitulate to U.S. demands.

These tough steps may include expanding drone strikes, revoking Pakistan’s non-NATO ally status, sanctioning Pakistani military officers with ties to terror, and designating Pakistan as a sponsor of terror. They could also entail non-security punitive measures such as getting the International Monetary Fund, where Washington enjoys strong influence, to stop providing lifelines, in the form of loans and bailout packages, to Pakistan’s fragile economy.

Yet, if provoked by these draconian policies, an outraged Pakistan may be inclined to tighten rather than ease its embrace of militants. It could help the Taliban and Haqqani Network intensify violence in Afghanistan. Indeed, for Washington, taking a harder line on Pakistan is risky business and could exacerbate the already-immense challenges of its warfighting efforts in Afghanistan.

Pakistan may contend it would be more willing to address U.S. concerns about terror if America helped advance Pakistan’s interests, such as by actively pursuing a solution to the Kashmir dispute, or by cutting back on its rapidly growing ties with India. In reality, because of its own interests, these are non-starters for Washington.

But this all amounts to putting the cart before the horse. For now, the Trump administration has restricted itself to suspending security assistance. In the coming days, expect angry statements from the Pakistani government, but perhaps not much else. Some analysts have suggested Pakistan may retaliate by shutting down the supply routes on its soil used by NATO vehicles to access Afghanistan. That is certainly possible.

However, Pakistan may also opt to hold its fire, preferring to keep its prime tool of leverage in reserve as a deterrent to forestall the possibility of Washington resorting to more draconian moves. For now, Pakistan may instead retaliate with softer measures, such as issuing fewer visas to Americans.

There are lessons in all of this, and particularly for members of Congress, including most recently Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who plans to introduce legislation to end aid to Pakistan. Aid cuts to Pakistan can convey strong messages of unhappiness about Pakistan’s policy toward terrorism, but they can’t be expected to induce changes in Pakistan’s behavior. In the context of U.S.-Pakistan relations, the core impacts of aid cuts are symbolic more than substantive.

So the best way to pitch a bill to Americans about ending aid to Pakistan is to emphasize the benefit not for U.S. foreign policy, but for the U.S. economy: It puts money back in the hands of the American taxpayer.

Continue Reading

America

Donald Trump denounces ex-aide Steve Bannon, says he’s ‘lost his mind’

Published

on

Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump unleashed a spectacular denunciation of one of his closest political allies Wednesday, describing his former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon as insane and irrelevant.

“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind,” Trump said in a statement that was notably abrasive, even for America’s combative 45th president.

Trump said Bannon — who engineered the New York real estate mogul’s link to the nationalist far right and helped create a pro-Trump media ecosystem — was “only in it for himself.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Most Popular