The Week: A wall comes between Delta CEO and Donald Trump


Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian earlier this month played the role of wingman to President Donald Trump, but that was because they shared an interest in overhauling the tax code.

Now they appear set to hit a wall.

Atlanta-based Delta in May acquired a 49 percent stake in Aeromexico when it launched a joint venture with the Mexican airline. The deal gave Delta greater access to Mexico, as well as a seat for Bastian on the board of its new partner.

That kind of thing is liable to provide you with some perspective. For Bastian, the president’s immigration policy, particularly the wall he pledged to build on the Mexican border, has become an interest.

Trevor Williams of Global Atlanta reported that Bastian brought up the wall during a a speech at the annual convention of the Hispanic Corporate Council of Atlanta.

“I don’t know what they’re going to do with the wall they keep talking about,” Bastian said, “but we’re going to fly over that damn thing, whatever it is.”

Bastian then offered a more big-picture assessment of current conditions.

“There’s a lot of anxiety, a lot of fear that cuts into the heart of who we are as a society,” he said. “It’s caused a lot of people to wonder what’s going on and where are we going.”

There’s also another area at the root of friction between Delta and the White House. It’s called Canada.

Delta recently negotiated low prices to buy 75 jets from Canadian-based Bombardier, along with options for 50 more aircraft. Rival Boeing then alleged that Bombardier was receiving illegal subsidies and dumping its product into the U.S. market.

The Trump administration hit Bombardier with a proposed duty of nearly 220 percent, and then it added an anti-dumping duty of nearly 80 percent. That could scuttle Delta’s deal with Bombardier or significantly bump up the airline’s costs.

To think, only two weeks ago Bastian was praising Trump’s approach on taxes. Bastian almost sounded like the president back then, saying in a written statement that Trump’s proposal to cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent represented “a positive first step that will lead to economic growth and job creation.”

Change could be coming: U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has hinted at tightening restrictions on the use of food stamps by able-bodied people.

Perdue suggested during a recent speech in New York that enrollment in the program would fall if individuals who are able to work are restricted from using it.

But sometimes a job may not be enough. Georgia — the state Perdue led for two terms as governor, and where the minimum wage is $5.15 an hour — offers an example.

A study based on census data, and recently highlighted by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, showed some 3,200 members of the state’s law enforcement community — bailiffs, beat cops, jailers, prison guards and sheriff’s deputies — are food stamp recipients.

“That’s probably correct,” said Terry Norris, the executive director of the Georgia Sheriff’s Association.

Backing for a different Perdue: Could Sonny Perdue’s cousin, Georgia U.S. Sen. David Perdue, be in line to head the chamber’s Republicans?

Tea Party Patriots head Jenny Beth Martin of Cherokee County thinks you could do worse.

“I’m from Georgia, so I’m not opposed to him,” Martin said during a Capitol Hill press conference, adding praise for Perdue’s background as a CEO before winning election to the Senate.

By the way, in Martin’s view, worse would be the man already holding the job, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

She joined a handful of other conservative group leaders Wednesday in sending a letter to McConnell requesting that he resign.

Hoping for a promotion: U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, said during an appearance on C-SPAN that he would like to become chairman of the U.S. House Budget Committee.

“We have got a whole bunch of people on the Budget Committee that would be outstanding chairmen,” he said. “I would like to count myself to be among those.”

Woodall is apparently facing uphill odds. Recent reporting from other D.C. media outlets suggests U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., is a more popular choice with party leaders.

An LGBT addition: Georgia added its fourth open LGBT member of the state Legislature this past week, according to Georgia Voice.

State Rep. Renitta Shannon, on the eve of National Coming Out Day, announced that she is bisexual. The Decatur Democrat wrote that she is “generally a private person” but that with Trump in the White House “proactive visibility seems more important than ever.”

She joins state Reps. Park Cannon, Karla Drenner and Sam Park as Georgia’s LGBT state lawmakers.

Candidates, endorsements, etc.:

— Former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum has endorsed state Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer’s Republican bid for lieutenant governor. Santorum, who has tried twice, so far, to win the Republican nomination for president, said that Shafer “is the rare politician who talks like a conservative and then actually votes like one.”

— Georgia’s 6th Congressional District is drawing renewed interest from Democrats. First, former CBS46 anchor Bobby Kaple announced his plans to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Karen Handel. Then Richard Keatley, an educator and U.S. Navy veteran, announced that he would make another run at the job.

Keatley tallied about 230 votes in April, when he was one of five Democrats (and 18 candidates) who ran in the contest to win the 6th District seat Tom Price vacated to become Trump’s first secretary of health and human services. Handel eventually won the seat in a June runoff against Democrat Jon Ossoff, who has yet to say whether he will make another bid for the seat.

— Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle won a straw poll conducted last weekend in Baldwin County during a forum for GOP candidates for governor. The same poll also held good news for former state Rep. Geoff Duncan, who’s running for lieutenant governor; state Rep. Buzz Brockway, who’s making a bid for secretary of state; and Shane Mobley, who hopes to become the state’s insurance commissioner.

— Jen Slipakoff of Kennesaw is running as a Democrat against state Rep. Earl Ehrhart of Powder Springs, the longest-serving Republican in the Georgia House. Slipakoff is an advocate for LGBTQ issues, in part because her 9-year-old daughter Allie is transgender.

— Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has decided who he’d like to see sitting behind his desk after he leaves office. He endorsed Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms in November’s race to succeed him.


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