1960 Bureau of the Budget Memo on American Municipal Association Commuter Rail Relief Bill
This is an internal memo from the White House Bureau of the Budget dated March 11, 1960 summarizing legislation introduced in the House of Representatives (as H.R. 10808, 10843, 10852, 10863, and 10885) at the request of the American Municipal Association (the forerunner of today’s National League of Cities).
The bill would establish a new government corporation in the Department of Commerce. This corporation could purchase obligations of or make 50-year loans at low interest rates to State and local public agencies, including interstate agencies, to acquire, maintain or improve equipment or facilities for mass transit services (excluding highways). The corporation would be financed by selling $500 million in stock to the Treasury Department and by borrowing another $500 million, either privately or from the Treasury.
The memo, requested by Sen. Prescott Bush (R-CT), opposed the legislation, concluding that:
If Federal aid is believed necessary, it should be limited to metropolitan areas with well considered transportation plans which are coordinated with comprehensive land use plans and which are administered by public agencies with area-wide responsibilities for all types of transportation and with adequate local financial support; Federal aid for such plans can be obtained from the present HHFA urban planning grant program. The Federal government should avoid new subsidies, including loans with subsidized interest rates, but might provide more latitude in the use of existing urban highway grants as an aid to meeting mass transportation needs. Properly organized and supported local agencies can reasonably be expected to borrow the necessary funds privately, but, if necessary, modifications should be considered in the present ICC railroad loan guarantee program or in the public facility loan program at HHFA.