Once a year or so, Robert Samuelson writes an article about the budget deficit and Amtrak. The reason he picks on Amtrak is that it’s a symbol for the government’s inability to make hard decisions:
As for Amtrak, it swallows ever-larger subsidies to provide mediocre service for a small minority of travelers. In fiscal 2005 it's receiving $1.2 billion for carrying about 25 million people. By contrast, airlines carried 636 million domestic passengers last year.But now that Americans are outraged about high gas prices, the Democrats have seized the opportunity to submit an anodyne, toothless, and feckless energy plan. The centerpiece of the plan is encapsulated in this bullet point:
Free the US from foreign oil by 2020 by supporting research, development, and production of alternative energy sources.The singing of “Kumbaya” is optional.
If the Democrats were truly serious about energy independence and leadership-by-example, they would support the development of the Cape Wind project off of Ted Kennedy’s beloved Nantucket. This is their Amtrak moment, the token step that would indicate that they’re truly serious about a long-term energy policy. Throw in some strict CAFE standards also instead of the milquetoast “Provide consumers with more fuel efficient vehicle choices” and we’ll be on to something. Yet their “plan” doesn’t even contain the word “nuclear” which now accounts for one-fifth of all electricity generation. So whatever you do, don’t pretend these so-called “ideas” will do anything to substantially mitigate America’s energy problem:
Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, said his party's bill was an answer to critics who had accused Democrats of lacking ideas. "This is a big idea," he said.Yes, the problem is big. The Democrats just don’t provide any real solutions.
Extra - From the Financial Times and "The Do-Nothing Party": "Whether it is putting flesh on their call for US "energy independence", addressing America's rising health and education costs, or seriously addressing how to solve the crisis in Iraq, Democrats need to go beyond the politics of slogans."