The New York Times evidently believes it "got" Joe Biden today with its story about his big mansion and relationships with corporate bigwigs in his home state. There's some interesting stuff in there about the backscratching between donors and Biden, mostly around real estate, but none of it is corrupt -- rather, it's typical of a long-serving U.S. senator, though at odds with his "regular guy" shtick. But where the article seems unfair is in its five paragraphs on the money Biden's campaign spends annually on Amtrak travel between Delaware and Washington, D.C. An Amtrak ticket between D.C. and Wilmington is about $84 , a reminder that we should be doing much, much more to make rail travel in this country affordable. But here's how the Times frames it:
In 2003, for instance — after he had just easily won re-election to another six-year term — his committee spent $10,874 on Amtrak tickets; that same year, the campaigns of Senator Carper and Representative Castle spent $1,257 and $589, respectively.
The comparison between the Biden campaign and the others is irrelevant unless we know how much those other politicians and their staffs spent on rental cars, gas, taxis, car services, and other costs associated with automobile travel. Furthermore, utilizing mass transit is a public good, both for the environment and in terms of supporting an important public infrastructure and, for a politician, getting the opportunity to rub shoulders with voters.
Update: Yesterday the Senate passed, by a veto-proof margin, $13 billion in new funding for Amtrak. Bravo.