Several senators on Thursday criticized President Bush's proposal to give Amtrak no money next year, while the railroad submitted a request to Congress for $1.82 billion.No, I don't mean that we should see more of this in order to get Trent Lott "stunned and disappointed," though that's always a bonus. Rather, I like this part:
A majority of senators on the Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Subcommittee were critical of Bush's plan and sympathetic to Amtrak, favoring giving the railroad money next year. No specific amount was mentioned.
"How did the administration come up with such a ridiculous proposal?" asked Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., subcommittee chairman. "I was extremely stunned and disappointed that such a proposal was made."
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, in a statement issued after the committee hearing, said Amtrak itself has now acknowledged "its current business model is unsustainable and in need of serious reform." . . . The Transportation Department's general counsel, Jeffrey Rosen, said changes need to be made in Amtrak "before we spend one more taxpayer dollar to prop up a fundamentally broken system."The prez and I disagree on the future of Amtrak. (I think it should be pulled off taxpayer life support and have its assets auctioned off -- which will bring in about tuppence.) But bully for the administration for taking this position.
More to the point, every single federal spending program should be subject to the very same requirement: reform, or go off the teat. And reform could start quite simply with the requirement of a clean audit opinion every fiscal year before another cent is appropriated for the next fiscal year. That should shake some of the federal Enrons out of the system. No fair laying shit like Sarbanes-Oxley on the private sector when the public sector couldn't get its fat ass through 5% of the hoops corporations jump through every year.