WASHINGTON — Budget director David A. Stockman today set up the battle over the Administration's attempt to cut funds for Amtrak as the "litmus indicator" of Congress' budget-cutting resolve.
"There are few programs that I can think of that rank lower than Amtrak in terms of the good they do, the purpose they serve, the national need that they respond to," Stockman said. "That's how it all breaks down. . . . Amtrak is the litmus indicator."
He said, "If we don't have the courage, if we don't have the foresight, if we don't have the comprehension of our problems sufficiently enough to get rid of Amtrak, I don't think we are going to save much off the budget at all and we're going to face either enormous deficits down the road or whopping tax increases."
Stockman told a subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that the nearly $700 million the federal government spends annually on Amtrak subsidies cannot be justified when annual budget deficits are topping $200 billion.