by Locker Room contributor
Ron Utt of the Heritage Foundation has an interesting take on President Bush?s proposal to end federal subsidies for Amtrak:
President Bush?s plan to eliminate Amtrak?s subsidy in FY 2006 and require it to restructure will give the railroad?s workers and managers the incentive to reform their operation in the same way that government-owned passenger rail systems have been fundamentally reformed in Japan, Australia, Argentina, Canada, and Great Britain. These reforms often include full or partial privatization or sometimes just reducing the subsidy to force change, as in Canada. Previous successes holding Amtrak?s annual subsidy below what Amtrak and its congressional apologists demanded have already forced changes for the better. Amtrak has canceled a couple of its most costly routes, reduced its work force, and eliminated its unprofitable freight and mail businesses.
This serves as a good rhetorical example of what several of us have been talking about within the office regarding other policy issues. Use benchmarks and case studies when appropriate (other states, other countries) as these provide concrete ways to dispel theoretical claims. Also, emphasize that cutting off government funds to a particular entity or function may prompt creative responses, particularly private-sector ones, not just the cessation of whatever was previously being (poorly) done.