October 2, 2014

Republicans, Romney & Ryan agree: Kill Amtrak

Amtrak LogoThe Republican National Convention has made it official and in writing – the Republican Party, its presidential candidate Mitt Romney and its vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan are in agreement to end all federal funding for Amtrak and high-speed rail.

Romney previously signed on in support of a Ryan budget proposal Ryan introduced in Congress as a member of the House of Representatives. That proposal, which was approved by the Republican-controlled House – but not the Democratic controlled Senate – was to slash guaranteed federal funding for mass transit, and fold Railroad Retirement into Social Security and cancel all Railroad Retirement benefits in excess of what is paid by Social Security.

Here is what the Republican platform says about Amtrak:

“Amtrak continues to be, for the taxpayers, an extremely expensive railroad … It is long past time for the federal government to get out of the way and allow private ventures to provide passenger service to the Northeast Corridor. The same holds true with regard to high-speed and intercity rail across the country.”

What neither the Republican platform nor Romney and Ryan acknowledge is that no passenger rail system in the world earns a profit, and the few private sector firms that have expressed interest in operating passenger trains say it can only be done with help from tax subsidies.

Moreover, whatever few intercity rail passenger routes that might be taken over by private companies almost certainly would be accompanied by cancelling collective bargaining rights, and reducing wages and benefits.

Thus, the result of the Republican-Romney-Ryan approach, formalized in the Republican platform, is the end of Amtrak and intercity passenger rail, and huge reductions in transit funding throughout America.