No big surprise here. Republicans want to use the recent outrage over the aggressive screening tactics being used by the TSA at airports as an excuse to privatize it. As Steve Benen noted this weekend, that of course doesn't solve the problem and just brings with it a whole new set of concerns.
Mica is poised to become chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, so he'll be in a position to advance this issue.
There are a variety of angles to consider here. Note, for example, that private companies that stand to benefit from privatization also happen to be generous campaign contributors to Mica's re-election campaign.
Even more importantly, several domestic airports already use private screeners, but it's still the TSA that establishes mandatory security standards. If Mica or other Republicans want to have a conversation about whether those security measures are appropriate, that's fine. But whether those doing the screening are public employees or private contractors doesn't change the standards themselves. Selling this as some sort of cure-all for frustrated travelers is silly.
As Josh Marshall joked yesterday, "Watching cable TV this morning it seems like the new idea is that this would all be better if private sector workers rather than government employees were inspecting Americans' crotches, boobs, etc."
But via email, reader V.S. noted another angle that's worth paying attention to: legal restrictions. Existing standards, as written by federal officials, have to take constitutional issues into consideration. If Mica scrapped the TSA and let airports hire Blackwater-style private security to screen passengers, it's easy to imagine legal safeguards -- against racial profiling, for example -- suddenly being cast aside.
Mica of course also blew off accusations that any of the companies that provide airport security that have made campaign contributions to him might be influencing his push to privatize airport security. As News 4 in Jacksonville noted:
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