We recently noted a survey which showed that up to 25% of federal workers might quit their jobs if Donald Trump were elected president. (I personally doubt any of them would walk away from that sort of gravy train, but if true it might be a reason to give Trump a second look.) This week, however, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee introduced a measure which could save a bunch of those workers the trouble of turning in their notice. Under the proposed plan, tens of thousands of federal employees of the Federal Aviation Administration would be shed from the government ranks and moved into a non-profit, private entity. Government Executive has the details.

Republicans in Congress have introduced a plan to de-federalize air traffic control, which would move 30,000 federal employees into a non-profit corporation.

Proponents of the U.S. aviation overhaul say it would bring stability to a system that has been devastated by a partisan and volatile Congress. While the privatization of the Federal Aviation Administration has long been touted and debated, the renewed effort gained momentum after the union representing air traffic controllers signed on to the plan.

Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced the Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act on Wednesday, as part of the regular process of re-upping the agency’s power.

We’re talking about jobs that can’t simply be eliminated here because it’s primarily the air traffic controllers and supporting staff at the nation’s airfields. The FAA would continue to exist under this plan, but in a vastly reduced role dealing primarily with safety and regulation of the airline industry.

As proposals go, this one is rather hard to evaluate. One of the first places you’d think to look is the reaction of the unions: if they hate it then it’s probably a good idea. But in this case it’s a mixed bag. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association is supporting the measure because they claim that it would stabilize the funding stream for the FAA rather than leaving it up to the whims of a gridlocked Congress. That might be the biggest warning sign here because current FAA functions would be paid for through fees charged to the airlines for the service, not tax dollars. That means, of course, that the costs would be passed directly down to the public in the form of higher air fares. But on the other side of the coin, the American Federation of Government Employees and some other public workers unions are opposing it as a “privatization” effort.

Moving this important function to the private sector might work, but that’s not what’s being proposed. They’re talking about a massive new “non-profit” organization which would run it. That’s generally a red flag for me because non-profits have very little incentive to be either efficient or lashed to a dedication to excellence. But who knows? Once they’re off the taxpayer payroll perhaps this could work.

Circling back to the first point I mentioned here, it’s rather curious that a quarter of our federal workers say they would consider quitting if The Donald moved into the Oval Office. They must be the Democrats, because a different survey shows that among Republican federal workers, Trump is out to a pretty big lead.

Donald Trump has widened his lead among Republicans who work for the federal government, according to a new survey, with his closest opponent for the GOP nomination trailing by 15 points.

Thirty-two percent of federal employees who identified as Republican or Republican-leaning Independents said they would vote for the real estate mogul during the campaign primaries in a poll released Friday by the Government Business Council, the research arm of Government Executive Media Group. Trump’s support was similar in an October GBC survey, but his lead has grown as the GOP field shakes out.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, ranked second among the same group, with 17 percent saying they would vote for him in the primary election. Cruz was in fifth place among federal employees three months ago, with just 4 percent of respondents supporting him, a dip from an earlier GBC survey last August when he garnered 9 percent support.

It’s a rather minor data point to toss out, but it fits in with the rest of this story and it’s one of our favorite games to pursue here. You might think that federal government employees would be one demographic with a decidedly unique perspective on elections, so they could easily sway from the national pack. But at least for the moment, they’re following the national trends neatly, holding Trump and Cruz near the top. The only real shifts are in the harder to measure, low level buzz around the establishment lane candidates.

Exit question: How much of the federal government (at the least the parts we couldn’t do without entirely) could be effectively privatized without increasing costs or deteriorating the quality of services?

AirTrafficControl