Senator Flake Tries to Flummox Us and You and Them, Too!
Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona has offered an amendment to a transportation funding bill now in the Senate that would prohibit any federal funds from being used by Amtrak “to subsidize costs related to food and beverage and first class services.”
The National Association of Railroad Passengers was quick to react. In an email sent to its members and the media, NARP said:
“The Senator’s amendment ignores that food and beverage service is an essential component of Amtrak’s business—particularly on long distance trains, where it meets basic human needs. Think about trying to travel on one of Amtrak’s long distance trains (that travel routes up to 2,438 miles in length, over the course of days) without access to onboard food and beverages. This absence would be especially hard on the high percentage of Amtrak’s passengers with disabilities and senior citizens who rely on long distance trains.”
NARP is a non-profit 501c3 organization and, to maintain its tax exempt status, must be carefully non-partisan at all times. For the record, and as many of you know, I serve as an elected member of NARP’s board of directors.
However, comments and opinions I express on this blog are as a private individual and here I do not speak for NARP or for anyone connected to NARP.
Now that that’s clear, let me start by saying that whatever else Senator Flake may be, he is neither ignorant nor a fool. He knows perfectly well that food and beverage service is, as NARP said, “an essential component of Amtrak’s business”.
I know and you probably know – and indeed the senator damn well knows – that the real intent of his amendment is to hurt Amtrak. It would of course mean food of limited and lesser quality on Amtrak’s long-distance trains and that, in turn, would make train travel less attractive. As a result, and sooner rather than later, Amtrak would lose ridership which would, in turn, increase its need for bigger federal subsidies. And, finally, Amtrak needing larger subsidies would provide more ammunition for the rest of the If-Obama’s-For-Rail-We’re-Against-It bunch of obstructionists in Congress.
What angers and disgusts me is that amendment is hypocritical and insulting. First, because Senator Flake is arrogantly treating me and every passenger rail advocate with contempt. He knows that we know this amendment is a sham … and he doesn’t care. He might as well look us in the eye, smile, and flip us the bird.
But worse than that, he’s contemptuous of his constituents whom he clearly believes can be bamboozled into thinking that good ol’ Jeffie is just being careful with their tax dollars.
No he’s not, folks. He would like to kill Amtrak. He just doesn’t have the cojones to come right out and say so.