During a brief appearance at Friday’s White House press briefing, President Obama was asked to weigh in on the state of Metro, which is about to embark on a massive, year-long maintenance program. He saw an easy culprit: the legislative branch.
“The Republican Congress has been resistant to really taking on this problem in a serious way,” Obama said. “The reason is because of an ideology that says government spending is necessarily bad. Look, the DC Metro historically has been a great strength of this region, but over time we under-invested in maintenance and repair.”
Obama did not say how much additional federal funding the White House believes Metro needs, but it is unlikely to get anything, considering congressional Republicans’ public dispositions toward the transit agency. When Jack Evans, the chairman of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, told the House Oversight Committee last month that the federal government should contribute an additional $300 million, the panel’s chairman, Florida Republican John Mica barked back that “I am not going to support bailing out the District of Columbia!”
Still, it’s encouraging to see Obama take an active interest in DC’s local affairs, considering he and his family will be staying in town for a few years after they leave the White House, though it seems implausible that we’ll see the Obamas riding Metro. (Former presidents enjoy lifelong Secret Service details.) But he’s already getting the hang of being a DC resident: when something goes wrong, you can usually blame Congress!