The Corner

Another Engine That Could Be on the Government Dole for the Long Haul


General Motors is trying to prove that it is the little engine that could. But the bankrupt automaker may never fully climb the mountain ahead of it, if Amtrak is any example. 

Some analysts say the federal government’s effort to prop up the nation’s largest auto manufacturer is eerily similar to a 40-year effort to revive the nation’s ailing railroad system. Billions of taxpayer dollars later, Amtrak still needs the government to survive — and critics say General Motors appears to be headed down the same track.

“I see no hope whatsoever for the situation,” said Wendell Cox, a policy consultant who sat on the government-appointed Amtrak Reform Council a decade ago and draws parallels to the GM intervention today.

The Obama administration is committing $50 billion to General Motors — $30 billion on top of the $20 billion it has already invested. Administration officials will not speculate on when taxpayers may see a return on the White House-engineered investment, but they insist that Washington will cut off Detroit after that and will be a “passive” investor.


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