Biden Likes Railroads

24Aug08

Well, that helps explain Obama’s pick of Joe Biden for his Vice-President. MissLaura at DailyKos, and Atrios both report that Biden is a passionate supporter and user of Amtrak.

Support for the train system fits right in with Obama’s economic program. An important part of that program involves creating jobs by re-investing in the national infrastructure, and Biden will certainly be on board with that (so to speak) in regards to Amtrak.

For me, the economic benefits we would gain from upping our investment in the railroads, and infrastructure in general, is a no-brainer. What is more interesting is considering Biden’s case from the public choice perspective. In classic, public choice analysis a Senator like Biden would choose his positions from a calculus of trying to simultaneously maximize his income from corporate donors and his political support from voters. And I have no doubt whatsoever that Biden engages in such calculations. But then you have the intrusion of the personal into the calculation; Biden’s personal use of and commitment to public rail (see the story from Atrios, linked above). These personal commitments can shift the public choice economics of a proposal away from the equilibrium that pure, impartial, political calculation would have settled on. And I am therefore happy to have Biden on board for the Obama campaign and, hopefully, the Obama administration.

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