In the Chicago Tribune of March 17, 2005, Tribune reporter Rudolph Bush (we suspect no relative of our two presidents) writes about the senate blocking an additional $1 billion to fund Amtrak. He reports further on how this is a blow to those hoping to cripple the administration's efforts to zero out Amtrak funding. He also quotes a former Amtrak chairman as saying that zero is not an option because zero leads to bankruptcy.
The administration wants to see states fund intercity rail, and wants it done sooner rather than later. Reporter Bush also notes that this may be a good start in getting Congress to seriously consider the shape for Amtrak in the future.
Finally, the article also reveals that even the Bush Administration is reluctant to zero completely, recognizing that the Northeast Corridor, already a huge investment in taxpayer money, cannot exist or function without federal subsidy. (Could this possibly be read that they also know there are too many votes in the densely populated northeast to screw around with, even in a second-term administration?)
Then, today, the Albuquerque Journal carried an editorial by David Broder of the Washington Post Writers Group. (Disclaimer: Washington Post = Not Our Favorite Newspaper but Albuquerque Journal = OK) This editorial, while having nothing whatsoever to do with Amtrak, talks about the many unfunded mandates already imposed by the federal government on the states. He also talks about the 1995 Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.
We argue that zeroing out Amtrak funding is just another form of unfunded mandate, with the states having their arms twisted by the extortive "fund or lose service" proposition that the administration has to offer. Can we get our esteemed Senators and Representatives to believe that the UMRA applies to any law reducing Amtrak funding to zero?
Maybe Amtrak funding is not in as much trouble as it seems - if we can just get some creative thinking in Congress.
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