Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bobby Schilling: “YES” on pork for John Boehner, “NO” on Amtrak for own district.

Even though it is an economic lynchpin for many of the smaller towns in his district, Bobby Schilling doesn’t like Amtrak. The platform of the Republican National Convention makes it clear that they want to pull the plug on passenger rail in the US.

“Amtrak continues to be, for the taxpayers, an extremely expensive railroad … It is long past time for the federal government to get out of the way and allow private ventures to provide passenger service to the Northeast Corridor. The same holds true with regard to high-speed and intercity rail across the country.”

Amtrak is an economic engine for small-town America

While everyone agrees that airports are economic engines for cities and that public funding (property and ticket taxes for airports, income taxes for TSA and the air traffic control system) is a good investment, Republicans don’t use the same logic when it comes to small town America. For cities like Quincy, Macomb and Kewanee, the local train station is the equivalent of a busy airport - but at a fraction of the cost. Indeed, the two trains that currently run between Chicago and Quincy, the Illinois Zephyr and the Carl Sandburg, had almost 206,000 riders in 2011.

These trains are so successful that they are drawing the attention of our Iowa friends who would like to be part of the same system. Congressman Schilling, on the other hand, not so much. In the same vote that stripped $230million from a continuing resolution to provide Amtrak service between Chicago and Iowa City via the Quad Cities and Geneseo, Schilling voted to spend an unnecessary, and unwanted by the Air Force, $450million to develop a second engine for the F35 Joint Strike Fighter. (General Electric, the maker of the second engine, has contributed money to the Schilling campaign as has one of their lobbyists.)

In other words, there is plenty of money to buy jet engines the Air Force didn’t ask for but there is not enough money to expand rail service for your own constituents. When asked about his vote in the QC Times he said he wasn’t that interested, …on Thursday, he told the Quad-City Times he’s “not sold yet” and doesn’t regret not offering an amendment to restore rail money. He said he doesn’t intend to, either..

When a member of Congress turns his back on his own district in the name of austerity but votes to waste hundreds of millions for someone else’s pork, it’s time for a change.

Update - Just like so many subjects (Thompson Prison sale for instance)Bobby Schilling takes one position while in his district but does just the opposite in Washington. Bobby Schilling brags about his support for Amtrak while at home, but votes against Amtrak while in Washington. Talk is cheap, it's his votes that are hurting his district.

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