Biden’s Boondoggles Will Railroad Taxpayers | Citizens Against Government Waste

Biden’s Boondoggles Will Railroad Taxpayers

The WasteWatcher

Gorging on the taxpayers’ money is becoming an unhealthy habit at the White House.  After signing the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan into law, President Biden’s big appetite for boondoggles continued unabated with his proposed $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan and $1.5 trillion discretionary budget for fiscal year 2022.  Adding up these massive bills brings the total to nearly double the annual budget for FY 2019, the last year prior to the pandemic. 

President Biden is making it clear that he will spend just about any amount of money to sustain long-failing publicly subsidized projects that would not last a day without the federal government’s billions to sustain them.  For example, on the campaign trail, Mr. Biden promised to spend billions on Amtrak, and if he has anything to say about it, he will not break that promise.  As the former senior senator from Delaware, he was nicknamed “Amtrak Joe” due to his fondness for the passenger railroad system that carried him back and forth from Washington, D.C. to Wilmington, Delaware.

When Amtrak was created in 1971, the passenger rail system was supposed to be profitable, but as noted in an April 27, 2020 WasteWatcher, taxpayers have footed a $40 billion bill, and Amtrak has never turned a profit.  Amtrak’s September 30, 2017 and 2016 Consolidated Financial Statement  revealed that “the Company has a history of operating losses and is dependent upon substantial Federal Government subsidies to sustain its operations and maintain its underlying infrastructure.”  After Amtrak received $1 billion in the CARES Act, President Biden is going whole hog on funding for the railroad by seeking $80 billion in the $2.25 infrastructure bill to not only keep the current money-losing trains humming along, but also vastly expand the entire system

Shortly after President Biden’s plan was announced, Amtrak announced it would add as many as 30 new routes and additional trains on at least 20 existing routes.  Cities like Scranton, PA, not coincidentally the childhood home of President Biden, are included.  The city has lost nearly half of its population since 1940 and has not recorded a population increase of more than 1,000 people since 1930, so there is little doubt the route will never earn a single penny in profits.  In addition to Scranton, other locations of future possible Amtrak service include Christiansburg, Virginia, with less than 25,000 residents, and Ronkonkoma, New York, which has only 19,000 residents and already serves as the end point for a Long Island Railroad route.

When one thinks of infrastructure, usually it means airports, bridges, roads, railroads, and tunnels. However, the Biden administration is creating an entirely new definition that includes government-operated broadband networks, community colleges, electric vehicle charging stations, energy efficient housing, senior citizen housing and healthcare.  The proposal includes another $100 billion spent on new school construction and upgrades, after allocating $128.5 billion in the American Rescue Plan for schools, even as the New York City Public School system, the largest school district in the country, remains largely unopened, and tens of billions for schools remain unspent from prior relief bills.

High speed rail projects are also seeing momentum from the Biden infrastructure plan.  Comments by Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg have left California transportation leaders “encouraged.”  Melissa Figueroa, a spokesperson for the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said, “It’s not just our project in California, but a growing push for green, electrified rail across the country.” 

This, of course, left fiscally conservative representatives like Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.) worried that the California bullet train “has demonstrated itself to be a waste of taxpayers’ hard-earned money” and that “sending more taxpayer dollars to fund an already wasteful project would be irresponsible.”

It was only two years ago when California Gov. Gavin Newsom said, “Let’s be real,” and pulled the plug on a high-speed rail project connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco.  The project was a billion dollars in the red and over a decade behind schedule. Gov. Newsom said in his first State of the State address, “The current project, as planned, would cost too much and respectfully take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency.”  CAGW first pointed out that the project would be costly, ineffective, and unworkable in a 2008 report

With tens of billions dedicated to projects and programs unrelated to infrastructure, along with the pursuit of ideological interests, the American Jobs Plan should be renamed the American Taxpayer Foots the Biden Boondoggle Bill Plan.

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