Obama: Rail in Lieu of Gas Tax Holiday

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Friday, May 02, 2008 at 12:01 pm

The lone holdout in the much-hyped campaign push to scrap the 18.4-cent-per-gallon federal gas tax for the summer has been Barack Obama. The Illinois senator says it won’t save much at the pump, and the oil companies are likely to eat the benefit anyways. (Economists happen to agree).


Yesterday, campaigning in Indiana, Obama wondered why skyrocketing gas costs haven’t prompted a stronger move away from car travel:

The irony is with the gas prices what they are, we should be expanding rail service … We are going to be having a lot of conversations this summer about gas prices. And it is a perfect time to start talk about why we don’t’ have better rail service. We are the only advanced country in the world that doesn’t have high speed rail. We just don’t’ have it. And it works on the Northeast corridor. They would rather go from New York to Washington by train than they would by plane. It is a lot more reliable and it is a good way for us to start reducing how much gas we are using. It is a good story to tell.

It didn’t take long for the environmentalists to pick up on the words. Colin Peppard, transportation policy coordinator for Friends of the Earth, said, "Rail is an efficient, cost-effective way to travel that also happens to limit global warming. Senator Obama deserves a lot of credit for his foresight and candor."


Not that environmentalism has a chance of trumping economics as voters choose their candidates (Clinton is already running ads calling Obama "out of touch" with the American people.) But as an experiment in political responsibility, Obama’s stand will be interesting to watch.

Categories & Tags: Congress| Obama| Politics|

Comments

6 Comments

uneasyone
Comment posted May 2, 2008 @ 9:00 pm

This is an idea I have enthusiastically backed since Jerry Brown first proposed it in the ’76 campaign.

Not only would a coast-to-coast, border-to-border high speed rail system employ hundreds of thousands, but the fuel savings from a well-conceived investment would greatly benefit consumers and the environment.

Shipping charges and travel expenses could be dramatically lowered. The highly subsidized and highly polluting domestic airline industry would bite the dust for the most part. I sympathize with the workers – but that is an industry the planet cannot afford. Smoke-belching trucks would no longer crowd our highways.


grammoo
Comment posted May 2, 2008 @ 3:10 pm

Barack Obama has a great idea here. Just the thought of faster, cleaner rail service is exciting.

The pleasure of riding a train, reading a book and saving the environment all at the same time amounts to a really interesting opportunity for all Americans.


grammoo
Comment posted May 2, 2008 @ 10:10 am

Barack Obama has a great idea here. Just the thought of faster, cleaner rail service is exciting.

The pleasure of riding a train, reading a book and saving the environment all at the same time amounts to a really interesting opportunity for all Americans.


uneasyone
Comment posted May 2, 2008 @ 4:00 pm

This is an idea I have enthusiastically backed since Jerry Brown first proposed it in the '76 campaign.

Not only would a coast-to-coast, border-to-border high speed rail system employ hundreds of thousands, but the fuel savings from a well-conceived investment would greatly benefit consumers and the environment.

Shipping charges and travel expenses could be dramatically lowered. The highly subsidized and highly polluting domestic airline industry would bite the dust for the most part. I sympathize with the workers – but that is an industry the planet cannot afford. Smoke-belching trucks would no longer crowd our highways.


Carmichael
Comment posted January 8, 2009 @ 6:55 am

Must Americans always expect that they have the fastest, biggest and most expensive everything? Why do we need HIGH SPEED rail service anywhere in this country? Simply repairing the tracks we already have and building the locomotives and coaches we need would keep millions of people employed for a long time. Investing in keeping fragile interstates, bridges and tunnels maintained is not an investment in a realistic future. Most Americans have already purchased their last automobile, they just don't know it yet. This country is almost bankrupt and cannot afford the technological and monetary investment in HIGH SPEED anything!


Carmichael
Comment posted January 8, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

Must Americans always expect that they have the fastest, biggest and most expensive everything? Why do we need HIGH SPEED rail service anywhere in this country? Simply repairing the tracks we already have and building the locomotives and coaches we need would keep millions of people employed for a long time. Investing in keeping fragile interstates, bridges and tunnels maintained is not an investment in a realistic future. Most Americans have already purchased their last automobile, they just don't know it yet. This country is almost bankrupt and cannot afford the technological and monetary investment in HIGH SPEED anything!


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