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Posts published in “Day: February 26, 2016”

Short line


Short line railroads in Idaho will soon be blowing their horns over a proposed taxpayer funded subsidy that will amount to more than $2 million in federal tax credits which comes out to $14,090 per railroad employee. AND, that is just for Idaho rail companies.

Short lines are the the railroads that connect to the big mainline trains like Union Pacific and Burlington Northern. The Boise Valley RR between Nampa and Federal Way in Boise is a short line.
Senator Mike Crapo and Sen. Ron Wyden are behind the scheme to make permanent what has become a regular special break for the railroads. They call it “Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy–BRACE Act.

The GUARDIAN sees the special interest tax break as Organized Fleecing For Tax Refunds Abusing Citizen Kind–OFF TRACK.

Here is how Crapo spins his special interest tax break:

WASHINGTON – Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden today introduced the Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy, or BRACE Act, which would make permanent a critical tax credit used to repair and upgrade short line railroads.

“Small business freight railroads connect Idaho’s farms to markets across the nation and around the globe. For too long, Congress has taken a short term view of these crucial economic corridors. This measure will allow short line railroads to make long-term plans for infrastructure repairs and upgrades,” said Crapo. “Short lines are a crucial economic link to thousands of railroad customers. This legislation will improve the link between our communities and the national freight railroad network.”

The short line railroad track maintenance credit provides short line and regional railroads a 50 percent tax credit for railroad track maintenance expenses, up to $3,500 per mile of track owned or leased by the railroad. The short line railroads ensure that small manufacturers’ products can get to markets in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Last December, Congress passed the Short line Short Line Railroad Rehabilitation and Investment Act of 2015, which expanded and extended the credit through 2016.

Since 2006 Congress has acted periodically to extend the credit, often retroactively and often almost a year after expiration. This uncertainty causes private investment to decline, limits investments in safety and customer service, and provides uncertainty to businesses, farmers, and employers that cannot be globally competitive without freight rail.

Meeting farm to market demands, nine small freight railroads serve the Idaho economy operating 624 miles of privately owned freight track—40% of all railroad track in the state. These railroads directly employ 155 Idahoans and serve as the crucial link to the dozens of rail-dependent businesses that employ thousands more and would not be competitive without rail access. These railroads serve as the crucial link to the dozens of rail-dependent businesses that employ thousands, and would not be competitive without rail access.

Crapo and Wyden’s bill is also cosponsored by Sens. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Pat Roberts R-KS, Bob Casey, D-Penn., Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

First take/late

I have seen elections in which the dynamic would have played beautifully to John Kasich, or maybe even Ben Carson.

Normal elections tend to reward non-squabblers, the candidates who glide above all, stay free of the fray. Many are the three-way or four-way elections in which two, or three, of the contenders get drawn into an ugly battle, and the other candidate profits by staying clear and looking like the adult in the room.

Last night that would have been Governor John Kasich, who almost throughout the two hours-plus Republican presidential debates managed not to get drawn into a kindergarten-level battle engaged in by frontrunner Donald Trump, and his two increasingly desperate challengers, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Physician Ben Carson, who was quieter than Kasich (and everyone else, as usual), stayed out of the free for all too.

But this is not a normal election year, is it?

And so we watched to see which of the three combatants fought better. On that level, the result was clear: Trump quickly took the upper hand and never relinquished it. It was not good conventional debating, but it worked as psychological warfare. The many who tuned in to see if Trump would be brought down this time saw that he wasn't. Rubio and Cruz fired shot after shot, and only rarely this time at each other, but none seemed to do much damage. (Some were simply not well delivered. At one point early in the debate Rubio ran through four or five op-research talking points, any of which might have been damaging, so quickly that the details were lost and the points quickly forgotten.)

Various polling afterward showed Trump as having "won" the debate.

I wouldn't say he won the debate. He won the fight, the schoolyard brawl (even to the point of holding up his index finger to get teacher to intervene), which seems to be what matters this year.

It'll probably be good for a strong Super Tuesday showing. Likely, it's now too little, too late to stop Trump in his run for the nomination. - rs