President Trump put the kibosh on a deal President Obama had made with New York and New Jersey, supported by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), that would have split costs between the two states and the federal government to repair damage to the deteriorating Amtrak tunnel connecting them. Fox News reports that the rail tunnel project would have cost $13 billion, with the states getting their portions in the form of loans from the federal government.
The deputy administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, K. Jane Williams, wrote to New York and New Jersey declaring that there was no formal binding agreement making the federal government responsible for going through with the project. Williams wrote that “the responsibility for funding a local project where nine out of 10 passengers are local transit riders” rests with the states.
While proponents of the Amtrak project claimed that “having states borrow from the federal government to finance infrastructure projects is not unprecedented,” the Administration declared that while the project may be important, it rejected the idea that the federal government should be relied on for costs for state projects.
Conservative writer Scott St. Clair tweeted in defense of the Administration’s decision, saying “Why should taxpayers in South Dakota or South Carolina have to chip in for a rail tunnel for Jersey commuters who work in New York?”
Downsizinggovernment.org reported in 2016 that Amtrak’s revenue hasn’t been able to pay for its expenses on its own, consuming “more than $40 billion in federal subsidies over the decades.” The watchdog website also reported that Amtrak’s workforce consists of “20,000 employees earning an average $105,000 a year in wages and benefits.”
With waste and abuse such as this, it’s easy to see the Trump Administration made a smart decision to put a halt to the company’s flow of handouts.