Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Streetsblog

The Tea Party’s Selective Disdain for Transportation Subsidies

10:57 AM EDT on July 2, 2012

Does the Tea Party hate transportation subsidies or not? Sometimes it can be difficult to tell.

false

Here we have the Reason Foundation howling about $1 million for Capital Bikeshare. And last week self-styled GOP budget hawks successfully wrested away federal funds from bike and pedestrian projects on the grounds that such programs are "wasteful."

But wait! Bloomberg reported that in the same week House Tea Party Republicans voted to maintain a $214 million program that subsidizes air travel to towns like Huron, South Dakota and Scottsbluff, Nebraska -- something that folks at the Cato Institute and fellow Republicans have argued is an unconscionable use of taxpayer money.

According to the Associated Press:

Tea party lawmakers from rural areas were among those fighting the hardest to preserve taxpayer subsidies for airline flights into and out of small towns last year after senior Republicans tried to eliminate the oft-criticized program. Now, the House Appropriations Committee is awarding the program an 11 percent budget hike. Next year, the subsidies would reach a record $214 million under a bill the GOP-run committee approved Tuesday.

The subsidies can reach hundreds of dollars per ticket — and can exceed $1,000 in a few routes. A recent change to the program will soon take care of such $1,000-plus cases, but critics of the program say more needs to be done to shelter taxpayers from runaway costs.

Network blog Systemic Failure says there couldn't be a better example of hypocrisy on transportation policy:

You’ve heard of the bridge-to-nowhere and the train-to-nowhere. There is also the “plane to nowhere.“ This is the same Congress which eliminated high-speed rail funding, and severely cut bike/ped programs. Unlike the “essential” air services program, high-speed trains and bike paths don’t require operating subsidies.

I, for one, will be holding my breath until the folks at Reason write a scathing denouncement of this program. Or could it be that they don't really hate subsidies as much as the idea of providing services used primarily by city-dwellers. Stay tuned.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Pedestrian Observations outlines "Plan B" for California High Speed Rail. Bike Delaware reports that the state's general assembly approved a watershed $13.25 million for bike and pedestrian spending. And A View from the Cycle Path looks at the decoupling of bike and car infrastructure.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Want to Really Help Low-Income New Yorkers? Support Congestion Pricing

The president of the Community Service Society, who has devoted his life to reducing the burden of poverty, has a message for the governor of New Jersey and the borough president of Staten Island.

March 4, 2024

Understanding Car Culture ‘Denialism’ Can Help Safety Advocates Respond

Opponents of change sow confusion with fake experts, logical fallacies, impossible expectations (moving goalposts), conspiracy theories, and selectivity (cherry picking). We can fight back.

March 4, 2024

Con Edison Cons Its Way Out of Paying Traffic Tickets

The massive energy company is bilking the city of tens of thousands of dollars in potential camera-issued traffic violations by obscuring its trucks’ license plates.

March 1, 2024
See all posts