A Hefty Slice of Pork for the Metro

These days, it seems as if pork spending goes just about everywhere. Mariachi music in Nevada middle schools, a bridge to nowhere in Alaska, and thousands of other pet projects continue to fatten the federal budget deficit as Members of Congress look appeal to every special interest in their constituencies.  The latest project to be added to the list is the D.C. Metro, which looks to capture $1.5 billion in federal dollars if Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) has his way. A Heritage Foundation commentary points out that Davis recently proposed an amendment to the Deep Water Energy Resources Act that would divert $1.5 billion of federal revenues earned through offshore drilling to subsidize the ailing Metro. If approved, this would be the largest earmark in history, dwarfing the "Bridge to Nowhere" and other mammoth pork projects. Even more troubling, though, is the fact that the amendment would require communities within the Metro’s service area to match the $1.5 billion subsidy by raising taxes.

If the federal government wants to help the Metro, simply pushing more taxpayer money at it won’t do the trick. Instead, the government should pressure the Metro to reduce its operating costs and eliminate the inefficiencies that plague the system. Also, the Metro should seriously consider undertaking a program of competitive contracting, which has successfully lowered costs and improved service in London’s Tube system and in several U.S. cities.