Congressman John Mica: TSA needs far less administration, and better oversight

Neal Asbury opened the show by reminding listeners that transportation and infrastructure investing are key job creators. Logistics and international shipping are at the foundation of US commerce. “If we can’t move US products around the world, we can’t grow US businesses and grow our economy,” said Asbury.

Asbury took the opportunity to clarify points he made during a recent Fox and Friends appearance where his remarks were taken out of context by progressive media. Speaking about the extension of the Bush tax policy, Asbury explained that most people are out of touch with the impact of taxes on people labeled as “wealthy.” He notes that while his company, like thousands of other companies, bring in more than $1,000,000 in revenue the money doesn’t sit in a bank. It needs to fund the company, pay employees and ship goods for his clients. If taxes take a bigger chunk out of his revenue, he will need to scale back on hiring and spending, which will hurt the economic recovery.

Neal’s “Truth for America” show this week included not only his weekly co-host Richard Roffman but recurring host A. Paul Anderson, Senior Fellow at United States Congress, Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure and a former Commissioner-Designated Chairman at the Federal Maritime Commission.
Neal’s special guest was Congressman John L. Mica, who represents the 7th Congressional District of Florida, which stretches across six counties from the suburban areas north of Orlando to the Jacksonville city limits. Congressman Mica was recently named Republican Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. In this capacity, he heads the largest panel in Congress. His responsibilities include oversight of subcommittees that include Aviation; Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation; Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management; Highways and Transit; Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials; and Water Resources and Environment.

Congressman Mica was on the original committee that created TSA (Transportation Security Administration) after 9/11, which was charged with protecting US flyers by identifying security threats. But Congressman Mica is unhappy that TSA has been bogged down by an inflated budget and a huge bureaucracy. He divulged that there are 3,590 administrative personnel, many of them making more than $105,000 a year. He noted that it’s hard to justify that to the American public.
“I don’t think that the new security we’ve installed in airports is as effective as it could be. The failure rate is higher than expected. That’s why three times I’ve pushed for the creation of a biometric ID card that would include eye scans and finger print identification. It makes no sense to keep screening the same people over and over again,” said Congressman Mica.

Congressman Mica is troubled by a TSA staff that has grown to 67,000 employees, and now there is a major push toward unionization, with the support of Democrats. There is now a move to let airports opt-out of TSA in favor of private firms.

“Congressman Mica is really taking a leadership role in evaluating the effectiveness of TSA. He wants to make sure that we have the most effective personnel on the job,” said Paul Anderson.

“It’s about better security, less bureaucracy. Instead of relying on technology, we should be looking at screening methods used in Europe and Israel, like behavior observation. We tried it here but it became coopted again by bureaucracy and supervisors who didn’t do the one-on-one screening that makes this method effective,” said Congressman Mica.

Paul Anderson steered the direction of the conversation toward the vital role that infrastructure investing plays in job creation. “Once we can stabilize the tax policy, we can get on to putting millions of unemployed employees back to work. We need a long-term bill for infrastructure funding. Millions of dollars are sitting in a pipeline instead of being used to put people back to work.”

“I think we have to extend the Bush tax cuts, which I think should last for at least three years or longer. We also need to address the estate taxes. It makes no sense for owners to pay taxes their entire life and then after they die, their family gets hit with a high tax bill. It makes it tough to pass on the business to the family,” said Congressman Mica.

“One of the problems we are facing is that even during a lame duck Congress, the Democrats are still trying to push the same legislation that they pushed during the last two years that was rejected by the American public. They just don’t get it,” added Anderson.
Congressman Mica concurred. “The government needs to run like a successful business. You have to establish credit worthiness. You can’t do that with a debt load of $13-$14 trillion.”

Asbury joined the fray by proposing that the government taxes small business the way doctors in the 18th century treated patients. They bled them until they got worse and died. “All small businesses are looking for is a little recognition by the government. All we want to know is that the administration supports entrepreneurs.”
Congressman Mica is enthusiastic about the new group of GOP leaders coming onto the Hill. He predicts that their priority will be getting people back to work, and he thinks they will support the need to pass a budget for infrastructure that would create jobs. That includes partnerships with the private sector.

“I think we’re looking at a great new year for America,” said Congressman Mica.
Anderson noted that Congressman Mica was particularly disappointed that the Transportation Authorization Bill was not passed to fund infrastructure spending, even with a veto proof Congress. He characterized it as a “huge failure of the administration,” which would have funded long-term, large scale infrastructure projects that would have employed millions of workers.

He attributes part of the problem to a general malaise from consumers about where the products come from that they see on store shelves. For example, 80 percent of the goods at Wal-Mart come from other countries. Yet, consumers never seem curious about the tankers, ships and cargo containers needed to get the products to market.

Anderson believes that Congressman Mica will make a very effective Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and has already demonstrated some new thinking about the committee. He has already held roundtable discussions with private sector thought leaders to elicit thoughts about revamping the planning and structure of construction projects.

As Chairman, Anderson predicts that Congressman Mica’s three top priorities will be extension of the Aviation Authorization Bill; re-evaluate the TSA program; draft and pass the National Transportation Bill which will fund infrastructure projects over the next 6-7 years, ”to get citizens back to work.”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Leave A Comment