Thursday, October 02, 2008

John McCain voted against Amtrak this week in a bad political move

Senator John McCain was one of a minority of Senators to vote against the Amtrak bill in the Senate this week. Even though he understands there is a climate change crisis, and he understands that we have to break our addiction to foreign oil, he has a major blind spot when it comes to Amtrak and passenger rail because he one of the nation's leading critics of Amtrak over his long career.

If Senator McCain becomes our next President, then my prediction is that President McCain will cut back on service or try to liquidate Amtrak altogether rather than dramatically expand it.

Politically, I'm not sure why McCain would continue to oppose Amtrak, since there are a lot of Amtrak riders in swing states like Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ohio. All of those Amtrak riders in swing states are probably not going to support an anti-Amtrak candidate like John McCain.

The latest scuttlebutt is that President Bush might even sign the bill! No one has been a bigger opponent of Amtrak than President Bush, but if he signs it (since more than two-thirds of each house voted for the bill which is enough to override a veto), then John McCain would be more anti-Amtrak than President Bush. That's hard to do. And I think that's a disastrous position for Senator McCain in the next 30 days.


Blogger Andy said...

As for Amtrak riders in Michigan, I'm not sure it matters anymore if John McCain loses their vote -- it looks like he's content to lose the whole state. The latest news is that he just pulled out of Michigan.

I don't think McCain takes energy issues seriously. He talks about climate change, which is better than the rest of his party, but there is not much of substance behind it. He likes to make little spending cuts to burnish his conservative credentials. Cutting money for Amtrak is like eliminating every single earmark -- it's a drop in the bucket compared to the size of the federal budget. If he was truly concerned about energy and climate change, he would propose specific plans and solutions (like building up Amtrak). And if he was serious about cutting spending, he'd talk about cutting into the big programs the government spends money on (medicare, medicaid, social security, military). His positions are more about posturing than policy.

3:43 PM  

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