$1.5 Billion in Pork for Metro

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Jul 18, 2006 9:49 AM
You know, since it performs its duties so flawlessly. Oh, wait, no. It's the real world in which you get rewarded for succeeding. As long as you're a government monopoly, you get rewarded for failing.

That's what happened yesterday for the great, venerated Metro rail system here in D.C.:

The House of Representatives passed legislation yesterday that would
commit $1.5 billion over 10 years to improve the Metro transit system
as long as the District, Maryland and Virginia guarantee to match that
money. The vote was 242 to 120, just exceeding the needed two-thirds majority.

The
measure, part of a plan to keep trains, tracks, stations and buses in
good repair and increase federal oversight, now goes to the Senate,
where Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), sponsor of the House bill, said
he hopes passage will be "less of a problem."

But there's more. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia have to match the $1.5 billion, so I'm sure we'll see tax increases in our future.

Jeb Hensarling spoke out against the bill:

"At a time when
our nation is engaged in a war against terrorism abroad and faces a
growing fiscal crisis at home, the federal government should not be
handing a $1.5 billion bailout to the DC Metro System," Rep. Jeb
Hensarling (R-Tex.) said in a statement on his Web site. He chairs the
Republican Study Committee's budget and spending task force.

In
yesterday's vote, 158 Democrats and 83 Republicans supported the bill;
111 Republicans and 9 Democrats voted against, including Roscoe G.
Bartlett (R-Md.), Eric I. Cantor (R-Va.) and Jo Ann S. Davis (R-Va.).

The Heritage Foundation runs down concerns with the expenditure, calling it one of the biggest pork-barrel projects in history:


Another troubling aspect of this costly earmark is the regressive
nature of the spending policies the bill promotes. Notwithstanding H.R.
3496’s contention that subsidizing the daily commute of civil servants
is an essential national need, Washington area workers are among the
best paid in the nation. Whereas the median household income for the
entire nation was $44,684 in 2004, it was $88,133 for Fairfax County,
VA, the most populous part of Mr. Davis’ congressional district. As
such, Mr. Davis is proposing a costly exercise in trickle up economics
to compel Americans across the country to subsidize the transportation
needs of a small slice of one of the nation’s most prosperous
communities. As the U.S. Census Bureau reports, only 9.6 percent of
Fairfax County residents and 4.2 percent of those in Prince William
County, VA, use Metro or another form of transit to get to work.

Yuck.