All Aboard for Pork!
In 2004, we were pleased at Kerry Haters to host Thursdays "R" for Thune, during which we exhorted our readers to support John Thune's campaign against Tom Daschle. We raised a couple of thousand dollars and would love to believe that we helped Thune eke out his narrow win over Mr Disappointed.
But Thune is now pushing a pork barrel project that we cannot support. Dick Armey explains
:Currently the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is considering a $2.3 billion loan to DM&E through the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program.
This would represent the largest federal loan in history and put federal funds into competition with private capital. Furthermore, sweetheart provisions of the loan such as delayed repayment are suspect. The proposed loan is indicative of the significant expansion of the federal government’s role in the rail industry that was highlighted by an earmark in the 2005 Transportation Bill that expanded the FRA’s loan authority to $35 billion under this program—a tenfold increase.
The railroad seeks to serve the Powder River Basin, an energy-rich portion of the country that is also served by two major railroad lines. Given the current demand for energy, there are significant private sector incentives to develop rail access to the area, raising important concerns about the need for federal funding in the area. Indeed, the administration has proposed terminating the program to minimize taxpayer liabilities for any loan defaults under the program.