Travel warning: four days until Trump's shut-down costs TSA screeners their first paycheck

In four days, federal employees will suffer their first missed paycheck since Trump's border wall shutdown; it's hard to say who will be worst hit: the employees who are furloughed will never see that money (but who may have been able to pick up some other work while they were off the job to cover their bills); or the "essential" federal employees who've had to show up for work every day without pay, but who will, someday, get a paycheck to cover their forced labor.

In the latter group are 51,739 TSA "officers" (TSA screeners aren't cops, but they've adopted the "officer" honorific in a bid to secure flyers' obedience while they confiscate their apple-pie filling). Since the shut-down began, TSA officials have insisted that screeners were not staging "sick outs" (for example, to avoid daycare expenses by staying home with their kids) and that the extra waiting time that passengers were suffering through (53 minutes in Laguardia!) was the result of heavier than usual travel.

But after Friday, TSA screeners will have to decide whether they want to stay on the job without pay, and it's a sure bet that lots of them will stay home, and there's not much the TSA can do about it. A TSA walkout would cripple the nation's businesses and strike directly at higher-income Americans (that is, the people who supported Trump as he used racist wall promises to secure the votes needed for a two-trillion-dollar tax giveaway to the wealthy).

What happens next is anyone's guess. Trump's probably right that giving in on the wall will lose him any chance of re-election as discouraged racists stay home from the polls (as they had done historically, until Trump gave them something to vote for), and deliver victory to Democrats who have a small but meaningful chance of taxing the shit out of looters and oligarchs. But the patience of looters and oligarchs — with the exception of a few long-term thinkers like Charles Koch — is in notoriously short supply. If Trump loses the racists, he won't be able to help the billionaires. But if he loses the billionaires, he won't be able to afford to court the racists.

Airports are conducting talks with local TSA managers about finding ways to bolster TSA staffing, he said. Non-TSA employees aren't permitted to screen bags and people, but can help at checkpoints by returning bins and managing lines.

"It's certainly not built into their budgets right now, but if it came down to it they may look to find the resources to support that sort of thing on a voluntary and temporary basis," Bidwell said.

So far, TSA is managing the small increase in officers not reporting to work, agency spokesman Michael Bilello said. On Sunday, more than 2.2 million people were screened at U.S. airports and more than 90 percent waited less than 15 minutes, Bilello said.

Airports Worry About Screener Absences If the Shutdown Continues [Alan Levin/Bloomberg]

(via Naked Capitalism)