You’ve heard of the bridge-to-nowhere and the train-to-nowhere. There is also the “plane to nowhere“:
Tea party lawmakers from rural areas were among those fighting the hardest to preserve taxpayer subsidies for airline flights into and out of small towns last year after senior Republicans tried to eliminate the oft-criticized program. Now, the House Appropriations Committee is awarding the program an 11 percent budget hike.
Next year, the subsidies would reach a record $214 million under a bill the GOP-run committee approved Tuesday.
The subsidies can reach hundreds of dollars per ticket — and can exceed $1,000 in a few routes. A recent change to the program will soon take care of such $1,000-plus cases, but critics of the program say more needs to be done to shelter taxpayers from runaway costs. Last year, the House voted to eliminate the program in the lower 48 states by 2013. But rural tea party lawmakers like Reps. Rick Berg, R-N.D., and Kristi Noem, R-S.D., were among those who fought to save it. Instead of killing the air subsidies, Congress in February approved a watered-down set of changes when passing a measure renewing federal aviation programs.
This is the same Congress which eliminated high-speed rail funding, and severely cut bike/ped programs. Unlike the “essential” air services program, high-speed trains and bike paths don’t require operating subsidies.