Thursday, March 15, 2012

Deal? What Deal?

Libby Spencer has an appropriately irate post up on the intention of House Republicans to revisit the deal made last year to avoid a government shut-down.

...With the proverbial certainty of death and taxes, it appears the world's most cowardly Speaker in the history of man, is going to cave into his crazy tea party caucus and engineer another hostage taking government shutdown in September. ...

In other words, forget the deal they made the last time. Under the code of "true" conservatives, it was just a bunch of goddamn words.

A government shut-down just before the November election? What, are they crazy?

Apparently so. Even though they agreed to a certain level of cuts to avoid a shutdown (and a default) through 2013, this group now thinks maybe it would be nice to cut even more, the previous deal be damned.

I wonder who sent the blast fax to provoke this frenzy, especially since it's not just congressional Republicans who have decided to go back on their word. Republican legislators at the state level are doing the same thing. In Minnesota, for example, they've decided that the deal they made during that state's shutdown isn't good enough when it comes to the financing of public transportation.

GOP legislators are pushing increased fares for metro buses, light-rail and commuter trains, part of a longstanding effort to shift more of the cost of transit from taxpayers to riders.

Supporters say a 25-cent hike is justified as gasoline prices rise for motorists, but opponents say the increase would violate a deal that broke the state budget impasse last summer. ...

The Metropolitan Council, which oversees Metro Transit, said the proposal to raise fares would break a deal between DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and Republicans last year that ended the state government shutdown.

"We had agreed we were not going to raise fares during this ... budget cycle," said Judd Schetnan, a lobbyist for the Met Council. "We'd like to abide by that agreement."

That budget deal runs until the end of June 2013. Schetnan said the agency would be willing to consider fare increases after that.
[Emphasis added]

Now, a quarter doesn't seem like a whole lot of money, but it's a significant increase over the already hefty fares. During off-peak hours, the current adult fare is $1.75. During rush hours, it's $2.25. Elders (over 65) get a break during off-peak, but none during rush hours. A chart which summarizes the fares for Minneapolis public transit is available here.

The "reasoning" behind the proposed hikes is that users should have to pay more for the cost of public transportation so that less of the general fund is used. Ironically, the user-fee argument isn't used for drivers. Gasoline taxes hardly cover the cost of repairing and maintaining streets and highways, yet no one seems to be clamoring for higher taxes at the pump. The argument there is that gas is so expensive that they wouldn't dare. Besides, everybody knows that one of the functions of government is to provide and maintain the roads. Apparently public transportation doesn't qualify for that treatment.

Now, given the rising cost of gasoline and the damage it's over-use is causing the environment, you'd think people would try to find ways to tempt people into using public transportation. If nothing else, it would save some wear and tear on the roadways. You would, of course, be wrong. The obvious target here is not the cost of moving people intelligently but those who depend on public transportation, i.e., the poor. It's always safe to target them.

And so, breaking promises comes easily for the Republicans at all levels, especially when it comes to the vulnerable.

Nothing new here, move along, move along.

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Blogger Florence said...

"What, are they crazy?"

In a word, yes!

6:02 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:31 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Oliphant Cartoon

8:32 PM  

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