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While I agree with Michael Sullivan that it was nice to hear Kay Bailey Hutchison on Friday push against the proposed gasoline tax hikes and other revenue grabs proposed by the proponents of boondoggles like light-rail. But her new oppositions to such porkbarrel spending stands in contrast to her senatorial record of pushing the grossly wasteful Amtrak on American taxpayers.

According to the Washington Post’s WhoRunsGov.com, Sen. Hutchison “proposed giving Amtrak $60 billion over six years to fix tracks and cars, increase schedules and see if it would survive.”

She wanted to give them $60 billion over six years! That’s $10 billion per year… just “to see” if Amtrak could survive? Really? That’s responsible spending?

That explains why Citizens Against Government Waste keeps naming her a congressional “porker.”

Prior to that Hutchison supported a $200 million “rescue package” pushed by congressional Democrats in 2002. The Fort Worth Star Telegram described her as one “of the few Republican lawmakers … who joined the Democratic chorus of support for a $200 million rescue of Amtrak.”

She told the Dallas Morning News just two months ago that in her world people would rely less on cars and more on trains. That’s government trains.

For everyone concerned with highway expansion and the possibility of toll roads, consider this: passenger rail takes up more space, is very costly, highly inefficient, and doesn’t provide you with the opportunity to turn around.

Consider this: Amtrak train 22 (departing Austin Tuesday, Feb. 2) takes 5 hours and 49 minutes to get from Austin to Dallas — scheduled departure at 9:30 am and scheduled to arrive at 3:20 pm. Of course, that particular train has an average delay of 62 minutes. So plan for it taking almost 7 hours to get to Dallas.

Driving just under the speed limit will get you there in 3 hours, with bad traffic, 4 hours. And you can leave whenever you want. And your car won’t go on strike.

It costs you about $20 to drive that distance, but Amtrak charges $24. The real cost? Who knows, because the lion share of the ticket is subsidized by your federal taxes, thanks to Hutchison.

That’s her vision for the future? More inefficient government?

Oh, wait, she’d make it efficient in Texas… Because, of course, local commuter rail has proven to be effective…? Except that it hasn’t. Consider Austin’s CapMatro commuter rail. It is over budget and indefinitely delayed, with fare hikes occurring regularly. And the first train hasn’t left the station!

Hutchison’s flip-flop policies on transportation amount to little more than wishful thinking by a Washington insider who has drunk too deeply from the “government can do it with more money” well.