So reports today’s New York Times (Oct 31, 07, p. A10). The Senate voted 70 to 22 to authorize $11.4 billion, or $1.9 billion a year, up from the $1.2 billion Amtrak received in recent years.
According to the Times, “The vote signaled a desire for a major investment in the money-losing railroad service when the Bush administration and other critics say it should be privatized.” You might think Amtrak wouldn’t need more taxpayer hand-outs because, “High gasoline prices and congestion on highways and at airports have helped increase demand for rail services.” But then you also might think ethanol wouldn’t need government support when oil is selling for more than $90 a barrel.
The landslide vote for a bigger Amtrak subsidy (like the earlier landslide vote in the Senate to quintuple the ethanol mandate) illustrates the “logic” that prevails on Capitol Hill: Throw good money after bad!
In the case of ethanol, we’re told, government must mandate and subsidize biofuels because “next generation” technologies are not yet “mature.” Well, Amtrak shows that maturity ain’t got nothin’ to do with it. Trains have been around longer than Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), the bill’s chief sponsor. Corn may not always be King in Washington, D.C., but Pork will always wear the crown.