From Mo Brooks:
Washington, D.C. – Last night, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) urged the U.S. House to be financially responsible and adopt his amendment to H.R. 3354, the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act of 2018, which sought to eliminate Federal Government operating subsidies of Amtrak. The Congressional Research Service reports that, from 1971 to 2015, Federal Amtrak subsidies totaled $78 billion in constant 2015 dollars. In Fiscal Year 2014, Amtrak had a net loss of $1.1 billion. The House voted on Brooks’ amendment and it was not adopted.
Congressman Brooks said, “This one vote symbolizes why America is facing a $20 trillion dollar debt. Washington’s spending problem is a backbone problem. There is no policy justification for forcing Americans who do not use Amtrak to subsidize the travel of Americans who do use Amtrak. There are simply too many congressmen who want to spend money we do not have for things we cannot afford.”
Brooks continued, “Out of control Washington spending must be reined in if America is to avoid a catastrophic insolvency and bankruptcy. The CBO, America’s Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, and the Government Accountability Office have all warned Congress and the President, in writing, that America’s deficits and debt paths are ‘unsustainable.’”
Brooks concluded, “It is appalling that the Federal Government undermines and threatens the future of America’s children and grandchildren in order to subsidize Amtrak passenger service that would be self-sufficient if Amtrak riders stopped mooching off of hard-working American taxpayers and, instead, simply paid for the actual cost of their rides. We must cut Amtrak from the government dole, be financially responsible, and make Amtrak pay its own way.”
In a House floor speech during debate on his amendment, Brooks stated the following:
Mr. Chairman, America suffered four consecutive trillion dollar per year deficits during the Obama and Bush administrations. The election of a Republican House in 2010 brought progress. The trillion dollar per year deficits were cut to a low of $439 billion in Fiscal Year 2015. A $439 billion deficit is still horrible . . . but it is a whole lot better than a trillion dollar deficit.
Unfortunately, America’s solvency has deteriorated since 2015. In Fiscal Year 2016, America’s deficit exploded to $587 billion . . . $148 billion worse than the previous year. In Fiscal Year 2017, this fiscal year, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects the deficit will again explode to $693 billion . . . $145 billion worse this year than last year. And that is before the bill comes due for the Hurricane Harvey destruction in Louisiana and Texas.
Congress will soon raise America’s debt ceiling. As a result, and within days thereafter, America’s debt will blow through the $20 trillion mark. As a result of America’s $20 trillion debt, we pay over $250 billion per year in debt service. How much is $250 billion? It roughly five times what we spend on transportation for things like highways, bridges, and interstates each year. That debt service money is gone . . . no longer able to provide services to Americans. Rather, it is spent to make amends for past government excesses and irresponsible spending.
Worse yet, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that America’s debt service cost will increase by another $600 billion within a decade, to more than $800 billion per year. The question is then asked, “where is that money going to come from?” What is going to be cut? Will it be Social Security? Will it be Medicare? Medicaid? National Defense? What?
The CBO, America’s Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, and the Government Accountability Office have all warned Congress and the President, in writing, that America’s deficits and debt paths are “unsustainable.”
To be clear, in the accounting field the word “unstainable” is bad . . . really bad. It is the equivalent of a bankruptcy warning. It is a warning that America is heading to a debilitating insolvency and bankruptcy if we don’t do better.
In sum, Washington’s financial irresponsibility is a betrayal of the American people, it is pushing America into a debilitating bankruptcy and insolvency that will destroy the American Dream for our children and grandchildren.
It is in this setting that I beseech the House of Representatives to be financially responsible. Please support my amendment that eliminates Federal Government operating subsidies of Amtrak, thus forcing Amtrak passengers to pay their actual costs of riding on Amtrak trains.
Stated differently, what policy justification is there for forcing Americans who don’t use Amtrak to subsidize the travel of Americans who do use Amtrak? I know of none.
How bad is the Amtrak subsidy problem? The Congressional Research Service reports that, from 1971 to 2015, Federal Amtrak subsidies totaled $78 billion in constant 2015 dollars. In Fiscal Year 2014, Amtrak had a net loss of $1.1 billion. Who will pay for that loss? America’s children and grandchildren, that is who. Because that is money we don’t have, have to borrow to get and cannot afford to pay back.
Instead of allowing Amtrak to continue to run up debts and add to our national debt, we should force Amtrak to be self-sufficient. We should force Amtrak passengers to pay their own travel costs. We must cut Amtrak from the government dole.
We don’t give these kinds of subsidies to people who ride on airplanes we don’t give these kind of subsidies to a lot of other means of transportation, Mr. Speaker I ask for a yes vote, be financially responsible, make Amtrak pay its own way.