Saturday, October 04, 2008

Amtrak train riders should vote for Obama since McCain votes against Amtrak

I think John McCain made a major strategic mistake last week in Washington: he continued his decades-long record of opposition to Amtrak by voting against the best federal legislation for Amtrak in a decade. The bill is HR 2095, the Passenger Rail Improvement and Investment Act. Barack Obama voted to strengthen Amtrak and provide more passenger rail service; John McCain voted against it. Here is the Senate roll call.

The bill -- which President Bush has said he will sign into law -- will improve Amtrak servive and extend more passenger rail to more people. This is one of the smartest ways to break our addiction to foreign oil and give some relief to Americans who are suffering from high oil prices. Our nation needs a lot more rail service, not less. Barack Obama gets that which is why he voted for the bill. John McCain does not. That's why he voted against it.

So Amtrak riders in Wisconsin (there are a ton of them who ride the Hiawatha's 7 daily trains between Milwaukee, General Mitchell Field Airport, Sturtevant (near Racince) and then into Glenview and Chicago) and Minnesota (who ride the usually sold-out Empire Builder) who might want to vote for John McCain will think twice about putting into power a president who would be the biggest enemy of Amtrak we've ever had.

George Bush is going to sign the bill. That makes John McCain more of an Amtrak-opponent than George Bush -- and George Bush tried to eliminate all federal support for Amtrak in his budget two years ago! 

It's not a partisan thing. Republicans in Wisconsin generally support Amtrak. Former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson was a huge supporter of Amtrak. Senator Norm Coleman, a Republican from Minnesota, voted for the bill. Lots of Republicans in the Senate are big supporters of Amtrak. But John McCain is not. He is one of the country's leading opponents of Amtrak while Barack Obama has consistently been a supporter.

John McCain's opposition to Amtrak is a bad political move, particularly in the must-win states for McCain of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania. 

I mean, how can you vote for $700 billion for the investment banks and then in the same week vote against more trains for Americans? That will, I predict, lose John Mccain a good number of votes among Republican-leaning men in the Midwest who understand how important trains are to our economy -- and how we need a modern resurgence of train service to grow our Midwestern economy.

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