Trump Treatening VETO of 2020 Spending over Amtrak?

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by Blackwolf, Jun 19, 2019.

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  1. Jun 22, 2019 #26

    Ryan

    Ryan

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    The problem only exists with clueless people (given that this may apply to the fiscal conservatives in Congress, perhaps you do have a point).

    You're absolutely correct. However, it does demonstrate their compliance with the Congressional mandate to end food and beverage losses, which is kind of important if you want them to keep giving you money. You've just reinforced the point about how clueless those fiscal conservatives actually are.
     
  2. Jun 22, 2019 #27

    Larry H.

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    I don't see where what party you are in would make you decide to not support Amtrak. I know lots of people around here who are Trump Supporters and many of them use the Chicago daily trains often. Let us not lump everyone in to one group or the other. I am sure there are Democrats who also would say it is to costly. I tend to be conservative but I write my congressman now and then about the level of service, the diners, and the need for better connections. I always get a reply but what he does may be a different story.. However I have a feeling the people voting for the bill to require Amtrak to maintain a decent level of service was a mixed group of liberal and conservative congress people.
     
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  3. Jun 22, 2019 #28

    Anderson

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    I can say with reasonable certainty that, among other things, at least two board members are Republicans in their "normal lives". I know we've also got a few Democrats on the Board as well (and a bunch whose affiliations and alignments I'm not clear on). And I will say that there have been one or two times where a few of us have had to call individuals out for being improperly partisan in a non-partisan organization, but you're going to end up with that in almost any 501(c)(3) organization involved in advocacy.

    Some of this is, in all fairness, standard operating procedure for any non-profit ("never waste a crisis" is a mantra that cuts across party lines; I have yet to see an organization tell its members to sit back and relax much as I've never heard a politician declare a given election to be unimportant). They'd be making the same noises if a Democrat tried the same thing, and to be frank the management would not be doing their job if they didn't pursue the potential revenue from a given crisis situation. Any leanings on the political spectrum are going to come down to where the parties fall on this front on a given day.

    This isn't to say that I'm not occasionally exhausted by the perpetual "crisis mode" that we get stuck in, and the fact that a lot of the shots are coming from a given angle is frustrating. It has gotten old, and gotten old fast.

    As to the situation between the parties, while it is true that the Democrats put a good deal of money into passenger rail, an outsized portion of that went to California. Granted, this was not for a lack of first-round distributions to other states, but some of that money was doomed by the fact that the Obama administration held back on the grants in an attempt to use them as election goodies in the 2010 midterms rather than working to lock down contracts before the elections. Perhaps more frustrating is that while a good deal of money went to various state corridors, the national network came up very short on attention. Again, this wasn't entirely the administration's fault (who would have thought we would still be waiting on those CAF sleepers, as well as the N-S order fiasco?) but the carve-outs on the stimulus grant were problematic and Amtrak didn't get the replacement equipment it needed then (and still needs now) even in what should nominally have been one the most favorable of environments in recent history. I'll grant that we'll never know what follow-up budget packages in 2011 and 2012 might have looked like, but it would likely have been more of the same.
     
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  4. Jun 22, 2019 #29

    Bob Dylan

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    Excellent Post Cliff!;)
     
  5. Jun 22, 2019 #30

    Willbridge

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    I was referring to "the broad arc of history," not specific legislation. Amtrak got started on some good things under the previous administration and yet trashed citizen involvement that they had invited into the National Network PRIIA studies. In all three countries that I've lived in, support or non-support for rail service has had little to do with party labels. And, I have had multiple experiences with losing services because of passive customers assuming that either their party in office would do the right thing or that it was hopeless because the bad guys were in power. The price of good transport service is vigilance.
     
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  6. Jun 23, 2019 #31

    dlagrua

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    The bottom line is that Amtrak is not shutting down anytime soon. This whole budget struggle is there for theatrical purposes. As we all know, Amtrak covers like 90% of its operating cost from ticket revenue so the $2 billion subsidy being such a small part of the transportation budget makes for heated partisan discussion and nothing more. Forget the president, he is irrelevant on this issue.
     
  7. Jun 23, 2019 #32

    west point

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    can we assume that the freight RRs might postpone demands for operating payments until congress and POTUS get off their duffs ? ?
     
  8. Jun 23, 2019 #33

    jis

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    Federal payment to Amtrak happens quarterly. So depending on when the government shuts down there may be quite a big buffer.

    I am sure freight railroads won’t shut down anything the day after a delayed payment. But their payments are also monthly or quarterly. So nothing is immediate anyway.
     
  9. Jun 23, 2019 #34

    MARC Rider

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    Actually, the cuts may be minuscule, but they may be politically important in terms of persuading certain members of Congress that Amtrak is being a good steward of the taxpayers' money its getting. There is a certain discourse out there that the National Network is some sort of "land cruise" used only by well-off retirees. Of course, we know that's not true, but Amtrak can certainly point to their cuts and say, "Look, we're not providing fancy cuisine or anything, we're just providing necessary transportation service to rural locations." The only justification for fancy-schmancy sleeper service is if one can prove that it makes enough money to reduce the need for a subsidy on a given route. But you're dealing with members of Congress who are skeptical about that and certainly are skittish of the "optics" (as they say in Washington) of providing a subsidy to something that provides fancy-schmantzy first class service to well-off people.

    The airlines get away with providing fancy-schmantzy first class service because the taxpayer money doesn't go directly to the airline companies, it goes to maintaining air traffic control, supporting airports, etc. And not all airlines even provide fancy-schmantzy first class service, as anyone who's flown a budget airline knows.

    This isn't all members of Congress, rather a few critical ones, enough to ensure support of a decent Amtrak appropriation even in a "cost-cutting" conservative Congress, and perhaps even enough to ensure that the Amtrak line-items have veto-proof support.
     
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  10. Jun 23, 2019 #35

    Amtrakfflyer

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    That was a Congress from the past. Yes, the laws need to be re written but it doesn’t appear we have as many hardliners as Mica was in the previous congresses.

    Having talked to Senator Moran’s (R-KS) staffers he’s as upset about some of these cuts as riders are. Interesting times...
     
  11. Jun 24, 2019 #36

    MARC Rider

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    That sounds encouraging, but I'll believe it when I see them repeal the requirement that food service be "profitable." Or provide funding to reopen stations and restore baggage service to stations that have lost it. Or provide funding to buy the tracks over Raton Pass and encourage Colorado and New Mexico to start some sort of state-supported corridor service over parts of the route in addition to the Southwest Chief.
     
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  12. Jun 24, 2019 #37

    MARC Rider

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    You prove my point. Support for Amtrak is not really a party issue. The President's base is not clamoring to cut funding for Amtrak. Many of them are even Amtrak riders. So I can't see why the President would go to the mat over the Amtrak appropriation.
     
  13. Jun 27, 2019 #38

    Devil's Advocate

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    You sound like the kind of person who would benefit from reading about Scott Walker's war on passenger rail. All the mealymouthed vigilance in the world can't undo that kind of harm.

    Amtrak became a partisan issue the moment Obama showed serious support for it. That legacy endures to this day. If you still can't see that then I don't know what I could possibly say that would open eyes sewn so shut.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2019
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  14. Jun 27, 2019 #39

    jis

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    Only Republican Presidents have so far proposed zero dollar budget for Amtrak. I suppose some could view it as a non-partisan issue in this day and age of believing whatever suits one self. o_O
     
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  15. Jun 28, 2019 #40

    Dakota 400

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    The continuance of Amtrak on a LD service, a regional service, or whatever service is in the best interest of the American people regardless of who sits in the Oval Office or who controls whichever House of Congress.
     
  16. Jun 28, 2019 #41

    Skyline

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    And I wouldn't be surprised if RPA is more diverse than you believe.
     
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