Democrats' takeover of House might presage greener light for Mass. rail-service expansion

  The now-derelict place where the proposed Fall River MBTA station would go.

The now-derelict place where the proposed Fall River MBTA station would go.

Adapted from Robert Whitcomb’s “Digital Diary,’’ in GoLocal24.com

Readers notice and maybe complain that I put a lot of public-transportation stuff in these columns. That’s because of its centrality in the prosperity of southern New England.

It’s good news for passenger-train expansion that the Democrats took the House in in mid-terms. Such pro-mass transit Massachusetts congressmen as Richard Neal and James McGovern will be in a position as committee chairmen to push for federal aid to boost such projects as rail service between Boston and Springfield and Boston and Fall River and New Bedford. Those would ease highway traffic and wear and tear on our roads, saving taxpayers time and money, and lift our region’s economy.

  Purple lines show routes of proposed new MBTA lines to Fall River and New Bedford.

Purple lines show routes of proposed new MBTA lines to Fall River and New Bedford.

It will be tough to get anything helping New England through the GOP-controlled Senate, but a foundation (or rail bed) can be laid for when the political environment changes, perhaps after the 2020 elections.

Would Trump and the narrowly GOP Senate cooperate with the Democratic-run House in enacting a bill that would include the aforementioned projects? In his campaign, Trump talked up a huge infrastructure program but once in office pretty much dropped the subject and concentrated on giving himself and his pals a big tax cut and trying to kill the Affordable Care Act. But then the current version of the GOP sees tax cuts, particularly favoring the rich, as virtually their only domestic policy.

Still, a swelling federal deficit, an aging population, crumbling infrastructure and increased military spending pose huge challenges. My guess is that in the next few years, the top marginal federal income tax rate will have to be raised to around 50 percent to pay for the services the public wants (if not needs) and to address the rapidly swelling national debt and associated higher interest rates. The bond and stock markets are without mercy. We can’t live in financial Fantasyland forever.

Readers may email rwhitcomb4@cox.net to make comments.