Friday, March 06, 2015

In The Coming GOP Dystopia, Everyone Will Either Travel By Private Jet Or By Horse And Buggy


Wednesday at the very moment when President Obama was signing the clean bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security-- a bill that had been opposed by 167 Republicans and only backed by 75 Republicans-- Boehner passed another bill through the House that has his far right flank flipping out. This one, HR 749, was to reauthorize federal support for passenger rail programs. Although the bill was sponsored by mainstream conservative Bill Shuster (R-PA), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, 6 Democrats were among the 12 cosponsors.b In the end, the bill passed 316-101... not that close. But, if you look a little closer, you'll see there was a substantive problem in those numbers. All 184 Democrats voted yes-- from progressives like Raul Grijalva, Alan Grayson, Barbara Lee, Mark Pocan and Donna Edwards, right down to the bottom the barrel to right-leaning fake corporate Dems like Kyrsten Sinema, Henry Cuellar, Gwen Graham, Brad Ashford, and Jim Cooper. So if the opposition party voted 100% for the bill, where did those 101 No votes come from? Yes, that's the problem.

Only 132 Republicans backed Shuster and the GOP leadership-- in fact a few members of the leadership voted no!-- and the 101 no votes were all Republicans, primarily teabaggers and Confederates. Don't they want railroads? Some do, some don't. But what they want even more is to privatize AMTRAK and for them, that's what this fight was all about. Scalise's Chief Deputy Whip, Patrick McHenry, voted no, as did Foreign Affairs Committee chair, Ed Royce, Rules Committee Chair (and potential Boehner replacement) Pete Sessions, Financial Services Chair Jeb Hensarling (another potential Boehner replacement), and GOP Conference Secretary Virginia Foxx. Far right groups like Club for Growth and Heritage Action were warning the world would end if the bill passed.

Shuster's bill authorizes $7.2 billion in federal subsidies for passenger rail, including $1.7 billion a year over four years in subsidies for AMTRAK, smaller than AMTRAK backers wanted but around what they've been getting annually for a long time. AP pointed out that "in a compromise between Democrats and Republicans, the bill separates Amtrak's Northeast Corridor service between Boston and Washington from its long distance routes. That would allow Amtrak to use profits from the money-making corridor for improvements that could speed up trains and enhance service on the route. Amtrak officials have long complained that they've had to use Northeast Corridor profits to subsidize 15 unprofitable long-distance routes around the country."

Tom McClintock introduced an amendment to eliminate all federal subsidies for AMTRAK and 147 right-wing Republicans backed him. Only 89 Republicans joined every single Democrat to defeat McClintock's amendment (which went down 147-272), fueling more right-wing anger that Nancy Pelosi still controls the House.

The bill was greased through the GOP caucus, in part, because of an amendment that allows pet dogs and cats to ride on at least one passenger car per train, an extremely popular move with ordinary voters and riders. The Obama Administration says it was sign the bipartisan legislation if McConnell allows it through the Senate.

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At 7:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Privatizing transportation in the US will result in making travel too expensive for the working class. I suspect that is the goal of privatization efforts. How DARE the serfs migrate?

At 9:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Obama is fine with signing these bills? Hmm. That would make the Dystopian States of America a buy-partisan project, right?

It's always fun to blame the GOP for everything, but the fact is, the Dems share most of the same agenda. That's why these things keep getting passed no matter who's in majority and it's also why a Democratic president is fine with signing these things.


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