the Federal Budget To Prevent U.S. Bankruptcy, Part VI:
Trimming the Transportation Department
Jim Grichar (aka Exx-Gman)
by Jim Grichar
note: I ask readers for their indulgence because of my extensive
use of the b-lingo bureaucrat-lingo and the detail I used in
presenting my arguments. I do this to reduce bureaucratic counter-arguments
which I expect to receive to the absurdity that they invariably
those who did not read Parts IV of this series, total actual
cuts in proposed spending (what I call the "Cut-o-meter")
now amount to $337 billion. Those cuts came from Defense, NASA,
HUD, the Education Department, the Agriculture Department, and other
Department of Transportation (DOT) budget is one that is loaded
with pork, and it is ripe for trimming. At a proposed level of nearly
$59 billion for fy 2005, it contains loads of useless projects and
in the b-lingo, is an agglomeration of a wide variety of welfare-state
programs along with regulatory schemes that force states, when getting
associated federal monies, to comply with a host of federal environmental
and safety regulations; in other words, the feds get to impose a
load of unfunded mandates on states, a hidden form of taxation.
those DOT organizations which often make life miserable for the
average American are the Federal Aviation Administration (still
running a monopolistic and antiquated system for directing airliners
operating in U.S. airspace), the Federal Highway Administration
(pork for highway construction along with enforcement of federal
pollution control regulations for cars and trucks), the Federal
Railroad Administration (which primarily subsidizes Amtrak), and
the Federal Transit Administration (it sends pork to local transit
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is a nightmare of an operation,
with proposed fy 2005 spending of about $14.5 billion. A large chunk
of its budget comes from a dedicated tax on airline tickets that
funds a large part of the FAA’s operations ($6 billion comes from
the airport and airways trust fund, which is fed by the airline
ticket tax and some other taxes labeled "user fees").
Other than operations, the FAA proposes to shovel out $3.5 billion
for local airports and also spend another $2.8 billion for airport
facilities and equipment, probably including money for a continuance
of its decrepit air traffic control system. This outfit should be
privatized in total, making airlines responsible for the system.
First cuts should be made to the grants for airport construction,
saving $3.5 billion. Later, significant additional savings would
come from privatization.
Federal Highway Administration’s proposed budget for fy 2005 is
approximately $33.6 billion, with most of that money nearly
$33 billion slated for grants to states for highway construction.
These funds come from the 18.4-cent per gallon federal gasoline
tax (note that gasolines containing a blend of 5.7% ethanol are
taxed at 15.4 cents per gallon, another of the subsidies to Archer
Daniels Midland, the big agribusiness and largest producer of ethanol).
Withholding these funds is a way to force states to comply with
Washington’s dictates for clean air standards. While those lobbying
for federal highway funds would let out a howl, this spending should
be cut by at least one-third, or by $11 billion. Roads are a matter
for states, not the federal government. An end to the federal gas
tax would be a logical next step following the scaling down and
eventual abolishment of the Federal Highway Administration.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Lyndon Johnson’s
tribute to Ralph Nader and his safety guru Joan Claybrook wastes
about $0.5 billion a year. In an era when consumers demand safe
cars, this outfit is an anachronism and should be abolished. In
fact, its mandate on air bags has actually led to more deaths in
traffic accidents, particularly among children and the elderly,
who cannot easily withstand the impact of air bag on their faces
Federal Railroad Administration is kept alive mainly by the existence
of Amtrak, the subsidized federal passenger rail system. Out of
the estimated $1.15 billion proposed for fy 2005, $0.9 billion is
slated for Amtrak. This turkey has been kept alive by East Coast
politicians and business people, who enjoy taking the train from
Washington to New York City to Boston. It’s time to end this ridiculous
anachronism. Abolish the organization and save the money.
Federal Transit Administration which sends money to local
transit authorities is budgeted at $7.7 billion for fy 2005.
Most of the funds are subsidies for local transit authority operations.
In some cases, the federal government has subsidized construction
of highly expensive subway systems, such as the one in the Washington,
D.C. metropolitan area. U.S. taxpayers ponied up roughly $1520
billion to help construct this gold-plated system (only the best
for our commuting bureaucrats!!). Why people in Peoria should pay
to help out commuters in other areas is a question that most inside
the Washington beltway would never even ask. Time to finish off
this pork barrel program.
are several other smaller items in the DOT budget, including the
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which somehow has gotten
authority to license interstate motor carriers. What they do for
the proposed $0.287 billion in spending is a good question. Abolish
the Cut-o-meter Total is ... $360 billion!
proposed from the Department of Transportation budget add up to
about $24 billion from the proposed fy 2005 level and about
$23 billion from the current year’s budget. Adding in the $23 billion
in cuts from the current spending level brings the Cut-o-meter total
up to $360 billion.
there is still a long way to go in eliminating the $500550
billion deficit, there are still lots more vulnerable departments
Grichar (aka Exx-Gman) [send
him mail], formerly an economist with the federal government,
writes to "un-spin" the federal government's attempt to con the
teaches economics part-time at a community college and provides
economic consulting services to the private sector.
© 2004 LewRockwell.com