Thursday, September 25, 2008

Coburn Blockage

He's at it again, this time because he doesn't want to subsidize soft drinks?
"Amtrak loses $2 billion a year subsidizing food," Mr. Coburn said. "There are a lot of great reforms in this bill, but you're missing $2 billion. Nobody's going to not ride Amtrak because a beer costs a dollar more."
I have a feeling it has to do with his hate of rail transit. I'm sure like his other colleagues he doesn't mind subsidizing roads. He's also blocking Metro funds. Never seen that before from him.


Gleb said...

You're probably right about Coburn's motivation, but the sorry financial state of Amtrak's food and beverage service is a bit embarrassing. Amtrak leaves a lot to be desired. Overwhelmingly, most is due to a complete failure to ever invest properly in it, but a lot has to due to legacy labor issues, which are very much screwing up things like this.

arcady said...

$2 billion is probably what it takes to run the entire Amtrak system, and they manage to cover much of that from fares and state subsidies, taking about $460 million in operating funds from the federal government (the rest is for capital projects and debt service).

thm said...

Amtrak has about 26 million riders annually: how can they be losing $77 per passenger on food?

Amtrak's operating expenses are about $3B per year, with about $2B in revenues.

I think Coburn just doesn't want to know the real numbers.

Cavan said...

He is the bane of our existence here in local Washington. He hates the Metro too, despite that we love it.

Matt Fisher said...

"[D]oesn't want to subsidize soft drinks?" That Coburn is not a great Senator. Why, oh why, did Oklahomans send him there?

And why, oh why, do Oklahomans continue to send to the Senate a very right wing man who denies global warming and receives thousands and thousands of dollars from oil companies? He's up for reelection this year against a young progressive, Andrew Rice. While Inhofe could win easily, I certainly don't want him to win.

Oklahoma is generally one of the "reddest" states. Most Republicans are very right wing, and most Democrats, except Rice (and possibly Governor Brad Henry), are not exactly truly progressive Democrats.

Yeah, and Ernest Istook thinks rail transit takes away funding from roads that he says need the money. He apparently thinks we spend too much money on rail transit, as much as Cox and O'Toole and their ilk do.

Anonymous said...

"Subsidizing soft drinks" ... from the party that brought you "ketchup is a vegetable".

I rode on an Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train recently. OK, it only uses the Amtrak brand name but is run by California. But ...

You go to the cafe car, and once you look at the prices, you wonder how much the price of food is subsidized if Amtrak is paying about $3 wholesale for a Snickers bar. A king size Snickers sells to customers is about $1.50. Even convenience stores typically top out at 99 cents.

The big moneymakers are beer and wine sales. What I like about the Surfliners is that it promotes California businesses. It has a brew and mini-wine bottle selection that's better than what you'd expect from a train, and the selection is from Golden State breweries (Sierra Nevada, Stone, etc.) and wineries.