Grassley is right: "Independence is the most important element for making the inspector general system work. If independence is compromised, either by an inspector general or by agency leaders, then taxpayers are left without a watchdog and a major opportunity for accountability in government is lost. When the system gets compromised, there need to be consequences in order to try to prevent it from happening again."
Amtrak's notorious book-cooking, however, has gone unabated. The agency was reprimanded during the Bush administration for misleading Congress about its solvency. But former employees faced no criminal charges for fudging the agency's profit-and-loss statements.
Compounding matters now, cronyism runs rampant in the federal rail bureaucracy. Biden's lobbyist son, Hunter, sits on the Amtrak board of directors. Amtrak Vice President Eleanor Acheson is a close pal of -- you guessed it -- Joe Biden. She oversees the very Law Department accused of interfering repeatedly with the taxpayer advocates in the inspector general's office. Acheson hired Biden's former Senate staffer Jonathan Meyer as her deputy general counsel. Meyer called it a "happy coincidence."
In another such fortuitous coincidence, one of the top beneficiaries of the new White House rail bailout is GE Transportation -- the leading manufacturer of diesel-electric locomotives. President Obama recently named GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt to head the new White House jobs council.
With Team Obama's social engineers and legal fixers steering the federal gravy train, the light at the end of the spending tunnel seems grimly dim.