The Republican Study Committee recently released details for $2.5 Trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years. Drawn up in order to flesh out their campaign pledge to cut $100B by the end of this fiscal year, the proposed cuts would hit non-highway transportation spending particularly hard. The cuts would:
- Rescind all remaining stimulus funds: $45 Billion
- Eliminate all Amtrak funding: $1.56 Billion Annually
- Eliminate the New Starts program: $2.5 Billion Annually
- Rescind HSR Grants: $2.5B Annually
- Eliminate the Essential Air Service Program: $150 Million Annually
- Eliminate federal subsidies for the DC Metro: $150 Million Annually
This proposal is undoubtedly just the GOP’s opening bid. Tomorrow’s State of the Union address will likely represent the President’s opening bid, after which the haggling begins. I do not intend this to be a partisan post, for neither political party has forwarded a serious proposal to manage our long-term fiscal crisis. But Republicans are acutely aware that the symbolism of many of these proposed cuts (Amtrak, HSR etc..) far exceeds their budgetary impact, and that the sum of all transportation funding (including highways) amounts to crumbs at the budgetary table. With luck our political parties will someday choose substance over symbolism.