An e-mail arrived today, over the signatures of Michael A. Replogle, "Transportation Director, Environmental Defense Fund, Washington, DC" and Kathryn Phillips, "Director, California Transportation and Air Initiative, Environmental Defense Fund, Sacramento, CA," urging me — and every other editor they could reach, I presume — to write an editorial urging Congress to lard even more pork for mass-transit boondoggles into the increasingly absurd "economic stimulus" bill.
"Dear Editor," the missive begins, "On Wednesday night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an economic stimulus bill that included an amendment to increase funding for city, suburban and rural transit agencies by 33 percent, from $9 billion to $12 billion, to help them offset declining tax subsidies that have forced service cuts despite record ridership."
(Does that really mean "tax subsidies have been reduced," do you suppose? I don’t think so. I bet this simply means Americans already nearly bankrupted by government taxes, regulations, and other counterproductive regulations (see "Environmental Protection Agency") are spending less because they HAVE less, meaning the same old tax rates NET fewer dollars for these pet boondoggles.)
"As soon as Wednesday, the U.S. Senate will begin voting of its own stimulus bill," the car-haters continue. "We urge you to editorialize now about the need for the Senate to improve the bill by increasing both the share and total amount of funding for public transportation, which now falls well short of the funding for public transportation in the House-passed bill.
"In fact, the Senate stimulus bill currently includes: $27 billion for formula highway investments, but only $8.4 billion for formula investments in public transportation, $5.5 billion for competitive grants to state and local governments for surface transportation investments and $11.1 billion for investments in rail transportation. In contrast, the House-passed bill includes: $12 billion for transit, $2 billion for rail modifications, and $2.5 billion for the New Starts program, which funds new and extensions to existing fixed guideway transit systems in every area of the country. These projects include commuter rail, light rail, heavy rail, bus rapid transit, streetcars, and ferries."
Wait a minute. Are they talking about "shortfalls" to fund this stuff via gasoline excise tax revenues? You know — the tax Americans were promised would go only to build and maintain the roads and highways we drive on? With our cars and trucks? Which we fuel with the gasoline on which we pay the (hefty) excise tax?
And how are increased subsidies to keep buses and trolleys running on routes which cannot support themselves through passenger-paid fares going to "create jobs" or "create a stimulus" — when every such dollar has to be taken away (whether it be via a direct tax or via the less direct "inflation tax") from a consumer who would otherwise spend it in the free market on something he or she actually WANTS AND NEEDS, something he or she can’t afford because it’s doubled in price in recent decades for no reason but government meddling, something like maybe … a car?
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