Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg used his Summer Travel season press briefing to put forward a positive message about his department’s activities and to make himself look on top of things.
Buttigieg found himself in the hot seat following the breakdown of Southwest Airlines in December and the meltdown of the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system, which guides air traffic and provides crucial information to pilots, in January,
Republicans faulted Buttigieg for the NOTAM meltdown because he appointed the people who oversaw it.
Buttigieg Looks to Cast Himself as Competent
This press conference offered a chance for Buttigieg to put his mistakes behind him.
“DoT is taking a two-fold approach toward the airlines, collaboration where that is appropriate, pressure where it is necessary. We are taking steps to work with the airlines wherever it is necessary to help them reduce congestion and increase capacity, and when things go wrong we are using our tools to press airlines to continue improving customer service,” Buttigieg said at the press conference. “President Biden acted fast to restore the economy, demand came back faster than most forecasters thought was possible, and as we saw some airlines struggled to meet that demand.”
Buttigieg noted that weather has been the top cause of airline delays. He also acknowledged that the airlines were directly responsible for a larger portion of the delays last year than at any time in the past decade. He also faulted air-traffic controller staffing issues for about 5% of the delays.
“The goal is to always have a smooth traveling experience, and here at DoT we are doing steps we can take that we can take. In New York, that means allowing airlines to use larger planes with more seats at lower frequency, which means they can move more passengers with less congestion, and it’s showing signs of working,” Buttigieg said.
He continued: “We know that passengers continue to face issues, and I want passengers to know that when they do we have their back.”
Promises to Push Ahead Electric Vehicle Transition
He promised to push along the transition to electric vehicles (EV). He also touted that he had visited sites where companies were manufacturing batteries for these vehicles that he said would create thousands of high-paying jobs.
“I don’t know anyone who would want to slow down America’s progress into that EV revolution,” Pete Buttigieg said. “I would also note that if you do a careful cost-benefit analysis on these regulations related to the efficiency of gas cars, and those regulations have saved Americans huge amounts of money in terms of gas and diesel costs.”
He expressed hope that American EVs could be produced using American resources; however, the mining industry notes that domestic environmental regulations make doing so extremely expensive.
“The United States is rich in natural resources that are produced under the highest environmental, labor and safety standards in the world. But we simply make it too hard to mine in the United States, with a permitting process that often exceeds more than a decade. The Inflation Reduction Act and other bills are throwing money at the supply chain problem, but financial support and incentives will get you nowhere if officials don’t actually give permission for a mine,” Rich Nolan, president and chief executive of the National Mining Association, wrote in a letter to the editor in the Washington Post earlier this month.
This effort to get in front of the news instead of being reactive to it could help Pete Buttigieg in the long run as he looks to change the script about himself and his competency, especially if he plans to run for president in 2028.
John Rossomando was a senior analyst for Defense Policy and served as Senior Analyst for Counterterrorism at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for eight years. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as The American Thinker, The National Interest, National Review Online, Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics, CNSNews.com, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator, TownHall.com, and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia, and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award for his reporting.