This Is Why Amtrak Funding Is So Difficult For Congress

May 15, 2015

An opinion from Forbes by Stan Collender

Of course the main reason is pure electoral politics.

Amtrak is domestic spending, after all, and that’s something the tea party wing of the GOP has vowed to cut substantially.

Then add three things.

First, Republicans see Amtrak spending as primarily benefitting D.C., Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, that is, the mostly-blue states in the northeast corridor. The other major Amtrak route in southern California is in another blue state.

Second, many Republicans see funding for Amtrak as aiding unions that don’t support GOP candidates.

Third, there’s the overall GOP belief that less funding will lead to less effective government services. The more ineffective the services get the better they think it will be for the Republican Party’s mantra of cutting spending and making voters less happy about paying taxes.
But there’s also a far more technical reason Amtrak funding – or indeed spending for any infrastructure project — is exceedingly difficult for Washington: the federal government has a cash-based budget that treats everything an operating expense.

Read the full article by clicking here.

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