Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Way off track

In his daily quest to find new and even weirder scapegoats to destroy in the wake of his economic failures, George W. Bush is now targeting--no joke--Amtrak!

In his budget Monday, Bush proposed eliminating Amtrak's operating subsidy and setting aside $360 million to run trains along the Northeast Corridor if the railroad ceases operating. Amtrak received $1.2 billion this year in operating subsidy and capital investment.

Somebody needs to tell Bush that all good fascist regimes make their trains run on time.

14 comments:

Murph said...

So much for being a friend to business. I guess he meant only profitable businesses or debt-ridden businesses people can't live without, like airlines.

MPH said...

What about the train derails! Think about the children!

Ragin Cajun said...

And saving almost 1 billion dollars is bad because...

Ummm....

Ok, I give up. Why is this bad?

Murph said...

Umm ... I don't know Ragin' Cajun. Why don't you tell me after Amtrak lays off 50% of its workforce and cancels services.

Ian McGibboney said...

I can think of much better and far more moral ways of cutting $1 billion. Let's start with corporate welfare, for one. Or perhaps the White House could make an attempt to streamiline defense spending. From what I've heard, Pentagon spending is easily the biggest boondoggle in the budget. Slippery accountability, billions unaccounted for and shady business connections--sounds like a fat target!

MagicalShrimp said...

Or, how about cutting down the salaries of the guys in the Pentagon to a few million less?
Ha ha ha! That's funny! Ugh.........

PusBoy said...

Ian,

We had a bit of a discussion about this over at Zac Attack, and I am in total agreement that trimming the defense budget or rolling back tax cuts for the rich would be a better way to cut the budget.

That being said, I have always felt that Amtrak was a sham. I am a huge liberal, as you know, and think that public transportation is extremely important, but something needs to change at Amtrak. It has been a failing, money-losing venture almost since its inception.

Anyway, I don't like disagreeing with you. It's not good for the party! And by party, I mean frat party! Whoo! Beer bong!

Phillip said...

PusBoy you're right. We need to do something similar to what the Chinese and Japanese do in terms of railways. It's a very worthwhile investment and a good way to start cutting down on our dependency on petroleum.

Answered my own question as to why we'll never do it.

Flamingo Jones said...

I wouldn't mind if I knew the money was going to be set aside for something worthwhile. But I'm sure it'll just go into the "World Domination or Bust!" fund. I'm not cool with that.

Ian McGibboney said...

PusBoy, I don't mind saying that Amtrak is a screwed-up program. But the answer is not to completely destroy it as Bush wishes to do. Because if he is allowed to do that, then we'll never get it back (not to mention that the slashing would set a precedent to allow him to gut anything else he wishes to and that the public will just love him for it).

By the way, I'm definitely not a frat boy. Though I do like to party once in a while. We should have a party somwhere for the people on this blog! Though if everyone came, carnage might result.

The Manning Report said...

If we improved railways any, we should model it after Europe and their express stuff and the Japanese. Even if we did build an express system that modeled Europe and Jap. it would cost million maybe even billions to get going. And if we are talking about cutting programs, Nasa is the first on my list.

Anonymous said...

First off we can never model a train system in the US as they have done in Europe or Japan, Americans don't want to take trains, and never will. They want the speed of air travel, or the freedom that an automobile provides. So, get that idea off the table. Second, AmTrak is a cash toilet. Without government subsuidies they would have been bankrupt over 20 years ago. They lost over $500 million dollars last year, and their current president has said that they are doing better! If doing better is losing $500 million, I'd hate to know what bad is. Let them declare bankruptcy and have a truly independat entity run commuter trains on routes that people actually will go on. Less government!!

Ragin Cajun said...

Murph, cutting personnel and services is simply what failing businesses must do. That's capitalism and life is not fair. If the company I work for goes belly up I don’t expect the government to step in with a billion dollars a year. I expect layoffs and cutbacks and if I don't like it, I'm free to find another job.

Ian, you say, "Let's start with corporate welfare." Cutting a billion dollars worth of funding to an economic sinkhole like Amtrak, isn't “starting with corporate welfare?”

I for one have no desire to pay for the travel expenses of commuters in the Northeast (by far the biggest patrons of train travel) with my tax dollars. If Amtrak wants to stay solvent they should increase their fees. Let the people who ride the train cough up their own 1.2 billion dollars in additional cash. If they won’t pay then they can walk to work for all I care.

Ian McGibboney said...

Wow, Ragin Cajun, you sure do take layoffs in stride. By the tone of your post, I take it that you have a very secure job and that something must hit home for you to even flinch.

But what you describe isn't "capitalism" anyway: it's social Darwinism, plain and simple. Why? Because of my whole point in the first place; this isn't about survival-of-the-fittest; it's about priorities. I object that Amtrak is next to go. Not that it's perfect, of course; but I think we could trim far more wasteful bureaucracies first, like Defense Dept. boondoggles. There's so much corrupt capitalism there it makes me sick. If Amtrak suffers, I don't want it to be because Idiot in the White House needs the money for Iraq. And I don't think we should make tax decisions based on the mindset "But I don't use it!" Oh yeah? Well someone does! And I guarantee you that states like Louisiana pull far more pork from the government then we're worth. So yeah, I don't mind not totally slashing Amtrak. If we're going to refine or slash programs, let's at least attack the real abuses first.