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Amtrak needs investigation

June 8, 2010
The Daily Mining Gazette

Federal programs are notorious for not being able to stay within budget. Amtrak, the government-owned railroad, is an excellent example. It continues to require regular subsidies from Congress, years after it was supposed to become a self-sufficient concern.

Evidence has surfaced that several years ago, members of Congress were misled concerning Amtrak's finances. An investigation by the Washington Times - with details confirmed by the Amtrak inspector general's office - shows the railroad's books were altered for a period of time nearly 10 years ago. The books were "cooked" in order to make Amtrak seem financially healthier than was the case.

Indications of such dishonesty are nothing new. In 2003, the Congressional Budget Office was critical of Amtrak for claiming it was on the road to profitability even as it was borrowing money secretly to pay bills.

The new investigation makes it clear a few Amtrak executives were intentionally concealing the railroad's problems from Congress.

Lawmakers should launch their own investigation of allegations made by the Times. They and taxpayers should not be railroaded into subsidizing Amtrak under false promises things are getting better.



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