At a recent campaign stop in Virginia, Mitt Romney discussed his eagerness to avoid the upcoming sequester on Defense funds. He warned under a Romney administration "we're going to have to eliminate" some programs in order to remain revenue neutral.
“I’m not going to send money to Amtrak. I'm not going to send money to PBS. Not going to send money to the National Endowment for Humanities and Arts," Romney told NBC affiliate station WRC on Thursday.
To be fair, this is not exactly news; Romney named these exact three cuts in an interview with Fortune Magazine last month. To get a sense of what they mean, Sam Stein over at The Huffington Post reported "the government spends $444 million a year on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (the parent organization of PBS); Amtrak received $1.56 billion in federal funding in 2010, with $1.3 billion in stimulus funds; while the National Endowment of the Arts lists the current level of federal funding at approximately $146 million."
As WRC's Julie Carey noted in the video, "That doesn't add up to much." Cutting a couple billion dollars will put only a small dent in our national debt, currently in the trillions.
Republicans have targeted these programs for years. Amtrak, for example, has long been a thorn in the GOP's side. Reagan halved its funding in the 1980s. Bush 43 attempted to privatize it, to no avail. And Romney seems to have the same impulse.
But with record ridership due to high unemployment and high gas prices, Amtrak has reason to fear a dramatic slash in funds. The House Appropriations Subcommittee proposed cuts last year that the National Association of Railroad Passengers called "tantamount to shutting down the entire Amtrak network, because the remaining routes could not cover the system's overhead costs."
So though they may only dent the deficit, Amtrak cuts could have serious consequences for commuters, especially those in the northeast corridor, like "Amtrak Joe Biden." And just when they began testing the Acela trains for travel at 160mph!