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CEO DATELINE – Trump budget draws mix of association praise, criticism

March 17, 2017
By Walt Williams

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President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would cut funding to many agencies and services while increasing military spending, and associations have much to say about what they like and don’t like about the plan.

Among the groups generally pleased with the budget is the Aerospace Industries Association, whose members would likely benefit from Trump’s proposed increase in defense spending. However, the association believes the president should go even further.

“Unfortunately, the $603 billion defense budget proposed by the president today will not go far enough toward restoring the lost buying power and delayed modernization imposed by Budget Control Act caps,” AIA CEO David Melcher said. “AIA supports raising the base defense budget to at least $640 billion in FY2018.”

Trump also is proposing privatizing U.S. air traffic control, currently administered by the Federal Aviation Administration. Airlines for America is among the groups that have long pushed for privatization, saying the move would reduce costs.

“This is a bold step that will lead to the governance and funding reforms needed to move our air traffic control infrastructure into the 21st century,” A4A CEO Nick Calio told Reuters news service.

Privatization of air traffic control has its critics in the association community. National Business Aviation Association CEO Ed Bolen said his group fears the change would put too much power in the hands of large airlines.

 “Small and midsize towns, that rely on access to general aviation for everything from civil services, to emergency support, to business access and more, could have their access to airports and airspace threatened,” Bolen told Reuters.

The proposed budget would also eliminate a host of federal programs. The Chemical Safety Board would disappear under Trump’s plan. Two groups representing industries the board regulates––the American Chemistry Council and American Petroleum Institute—gave noncommittal answers when asked by Reuters if they would support getting rid of the board.

Other groups were more straightforward in their criticism of the proposed cuts. The American Alliance of Museums pointed to the elimination of programs for libraries, museums and the arts as something it would fight.

“It is Congress—not the President—that will ultimately determine funding levels for these vital agencies,” AAM CEO Laura Lott said.