Paul Ryan Lies About Amtrak While Pledging No Republican Infrastructure Funding

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Sometimes an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally and results in damage and injury may technically be considered an accident unless the incident could have been prevented. By now it is relatively certain that the Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia that claimed the lives of eight passengers could have been avoided if Congress had provided the necessary funding to rail carriers commiserate with the mandate to install the Positive Train Control (PTC) feature that would have saved eight lives. Congressional Republicans have not taken any responsibility for their contribution to the deadly derailment or taken any steps to adequately provide funding to ensure the safety of other American travelers whether it is on trains, planes, or automobiles. According to Republicans,  America’s transportation infrastructure just does not warrant investment any more than schools, hospitals, electrical grids, or waterways because as House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan claims Republican focus is on saving more money and lying about providing safe rail service for Americans.

Exactly a day after Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee voted in concert to cut about one-fifth of Amtrak’s budget from $1.4 to $1.1 billion for 2016, Paul Ryan did what Republicans do according to their shared party pathology; he lied. Ryan emphatically told Fox News on Wednesday after the Amtrak derailment that, yes, Republicans in Congress had already fully funded implementation of the Positive Train Control safety system it mandated in 2008. Instead of acknowledging that as an austerity-minded Republican his only priority and primary goal for serving in the House is cutting infrastructure spending, Ryan warned that Congress is in no way going to “rush to judgment and try doubling the size of government programs” just because some people died in an accident he said was caused by “human error.”

Ryan asserted that Republicans had already “authorized and mandated the sort of speed control systems to be put in place,” even though he admitted “it wasn’t put in place here at this time” or that it was not in place due to Republican austerity. When Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade asked Ryan whether Congress had actually funded those systems, Ryan lied and responded, “Yes! Yeah, we already passed Amtrak funding, and the appropriations process is working its way through right now.” What Ryan failed to mention is that Republicans passed cuts to Amtrak’s funding for next year and that the appropriation was well below Amtrak’s request which specifically included an allotment to fully implement PTC.  In fact, the Republicans’ latest Amtrak funding cuts are well below the past several years’ funding levels. If at any time over the past few years Congress had appropriated the necessary funds to install PTC across the country, there would have been no necessity for the Senate bill filed a couple of weeks ago authorizing a five year delay of the mandatory PTC implementation deadline from December 2015 to 2020.

Not only did Congress not appropriate funding to complete the PTC implementation by this year or by 2020, according to Ryan Republicans have no intent to fund any infrastructure improvements either now or in the future. The Ayn Rand devotee said he hoped “cooler heads can prevail and that people won’t seize on political opportunities out of tragedies like this to spend any more money.” It was an incredibly telling statement, and a portent of more Republican-made disasters, that when Ryan was asked whether he thought rebuilding America’s infrastructure should be a priority he said no. In fact, he acknowledged that yes, the Highway Trust Fund will be bankrupt later this month, but that he will not back increases for infrastructure improvement to “save more money and be more efficient.”

Now Amtrak is reporting that the train that derailed in Philadelphia on Tuesday was equipped with the automatic speed control system (PTC) that would have prevented the deadly derailment. However, although rail officials said the system “was tantalizingly close to being operational,” they admitted that implementation was delayed by budgetary shortfalls, technical hurdles, and bureaucratic rules in dealing with private airwave carriers. Republicans have failed to report that the day after the fatal crash congressional staff members were briefed and learned that “The transponders were on the tracks, but they weren’t operational because of this ongoing spectrum issue.”

Republicans in Congress have consistently failed to provide the railroads with crucial funding or access to the wireless frequencies required to make the PTC system operational. The Republicans’ loyalty to privatization of the airwaves forced Amtrak to spend years negotiating for access to airwaves owned by private corporations that has resulted in a four-year losing battle to pay for the right to access the necessary airwaves in the Northeast Corridor that would allow them to turn the system on. Rail officials confirmed that Amtrak had made installation of the congressionally-mandated safety system a top priority and was ahead of most other railroads around the country. Like everything with Republicans, it is always a lack of adequate funding and in the case of the deadly derailment, it was funding and access to airwaves from private broadband carriers Republicans protect.

As noted above, Republicans are opposed to appropriating any funding for infrastructure while they demand tax cuts for the rich according to Ryan and Republicans’ plan to “save more money and be more efficient” and it is not a new policy.  In 2011 “every Senate Republican voted to filibuster and blocked President Obama’s American Jobs Act (AJA) that included appropriating $2 billion to fund repairs and renovation for Amtrak.” The President’s $447 billion jobs act proposed creating hundreds-of-thousands of new jobs, and particular to this topic was the desperately-needed “large scale investment” in rebuilding and repairing the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. In truth, the $447 billion is really a small-scale investment according to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ estimate that about $3 trillion is required to get America’s infrastructure close to a point where the United States can be competitive with the rest of the industrialized world.

As DJchefron commented on Thursday, “Under Subtitle E, Section 241 titled “Immediate Transportation Infrastructure Investments,” the American Jobs Act featured this nugget for the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, also known as Amtrak. In Subsection (e) the AJA makes available $2 billion to Amtrak for the repair, rehabilitation, and upgrade of Amtrak’s assets and infrastructure, including rolling stock.” That $2 billion would have went a long way toward implementing the 2008 Train Safety Act’s mandate that ‘Positive Train Control’ be installed and operational on all passenger and freight trains by the end of 2015; including buying access to private corporations’ wireless networks. The Senate just voted to extend the deadline for PTC implementation about two weeks prior to the Philadelphia derailment and prior to Republicans slashing Amtrak funding by about one-fifth.

 

Regardless the number of lies from Republicans or Paul Ryan that they have provided funding to complete PTC, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has twice sought extra funding from Congress to finance the PTC technology for Amtrak and other commuter rails. The FRA’s first request for $825 million was ignored, and a second request for extra funding was made just this year for the 2016 budget as part of the Department of Transportation’s Grow America budget. House Republicans not only ignored the second request again this past week, they cut total Amtrak funding guaranteeing Amtrak will not be able to implement the train safety feature in the next fiscal year.

The former administrator for the FRA, Joseph C. Szabo, said; “Clearly, one of the hurdles that Amtrak has and the commuter rail industry has is that this very expensive technology was never funded. The failure to invest in Amtrak’s capital program clearly has been a hindrance in more timely deployment. The way to make public rail a priority would be with public funding.” However, part and parcel of the Republican withholding adequately funding for Amtrak, or any public transportation, is to bankrupt it into oblivion for privatization. There is little doubt the impending wrongful death lawsuits will hasten the financial demise of Amtrak. That human beings perished to achieve their privatization goal is as inconsequential to Republicans as withholding healthcare and food from hungry Americans that according to Republicans like Paul Ryan is crucial to “saving more money” for tax cuts for the rich.

 

38 Replies to “Paul Ryan Lies About Amtrak While Pledging No Republican Infrastructure Funding”

  1. The whole point behind many if not most of the safety features is to compensate for human failings.
    Not that Ryan or any other Republican can comprehend humans. Such would take empathy.

  2. As always, 35% of potential voters (the brain dead) will buy Ryan’s line of bullshit. But the 65% are waking up and the goper line of austerity and privatization isn’t selling very well these days. By November of next year the lies will have been completely debunked and the gopers will lose. It isn’t the idiots themselves, it is the insane policies that will do them in.

  3. I only got past the first two sentences of the article before I had to avert my eyes and tamp down my gag reflex.

    Does this train not have a driver? Can this driver not control the speed of the train? Is this so much harder than flying a plane, or driving a car?

    The attempt to equate the accident to government spending is a red herring.

    The next I’ll hear is that the train crashed because someone threw a rock at it. Oh wait…

  4. that’s a ridiculous argument to make… just because there was an engineer doesn’t mean he could’ve averted the accident… medical emergency, seizure, heart attack…

    that’s the reason the safety measure is mandated… then to not fund it is criminal… its supposed to be in place by the end of THIS year… now Congress is not only trying to cut Amtrack funds but they want to move the completion date to 2020…

  5. The reason why they don’t fund it is because the districts they represent has no rail service to the land of stupid.

    The republicans who know better fall in line with the teabaggers because if they didn’t they will lose what power they have.

    More people will die, there will be no infrascuture spending and the band played on

  6. I all boils down to the GOP will not, under any circumstances, accept responsibility for their actions, or rather inaction, to honor our country and give it what it needs to stay healthy and functional.

  7. The GOP only has the ability to look in the past, yet even with that they do not want to learn from HISTORY. History is not in their favor because they never can admit history is RIGHT. this is the one reason they are so in a tizzy that Hillary is not taking questions, (even have a clock ticking of how many question she has answered).

    I for one can not blame her. With the vicious bashing and investigations of Presidents Obama, and B. Clinton, by the GOP, the only reason for this is they want fodder for ads in 2016 race because the GOP have nothing else to honestly offer.

  8. JC Blues: Are we talking about this accident? I am. The driver was fine. Conscious, not drunk, not on drugs, not texting… (this is according to his lawyer)

    Yes, A competent driver would have avoided this accident! In airplane crashes the default setting is “pilot error.” Only with Amtrak does a train crash is caused by “Republicans won’t spend more money.” What a joke.

  9. Trains with oil tankers are crashing. Terrible environmental disasters. Why are you commenters not demanding “auto-pilot” solutions to those issues? This not about trains at all. it’s about the money. Disgusting.

  10. Robert, your attempts at cleverness fall way short. Your assumptions precede you with every post. Attempting to defend the indefensible given your cynicism is a guaranteed failure.

    The goper cuts to Amtrak money is driven by the corporate agenda to privatize Amtrak completely to better remove government safety oversight completely. That people losing their lives for lack of funding isn’t a consideration of the goper mentality.

  11. Took a train from NY to FL in 1958 — then in 1990. It looked exactly the same only more worn, dirty and no dining room service. Found that freight trains have priority (surprise, surprise and had to wait until they went by. This country’s infrastructure is a disgrace. Eisenhower must be twirling in his grave.

  12. By your comment you admit Hillary cannot speak with the press because they will ask her questions that she cannot answer. If she has done nothing wrong, there is no fodder. Speak Hillary! Prove your innocence! Smite your foes!

    Christ, she has to wear shades just to order at Chipotle…

  13. Hey Bobbie,

    The media ran after the scooby van. That freaking news clip of the guy with the orange pants and them all running just to get a pic of her exiting her van and walking into a building.

    Wasn’t it your hero, the unique, St. Palin, who called them lame-stream all the time?

    She answered them once, how many times do they need to be told the truth?

  14. umm.. yeah… his lawyer… that’s who I’d trust as the final word on the accident… I think I’ll wait until the report comes out…

    and a train control on this portion of the track might’ve prevented this accident..

    as for oil trains going off the rails… poor track maintenance is often to blame…

    again… limited funds… where do you spend it?

  15. In 2011 “every Senate Republican voted to filibuster and blocked President Obama’s American Jobs Act (AJA) that included appropriating $2 billion to fund repairs and renovation for Amtrak.”

    which would have moved America ahead economically for the majority of Americans.

    Republicans are liars and cheats and desperately want America to turn into a third world nation.

    ‘That human beings perished to achieve their privatization goal is as inconsequential to Republicans as withholding healthcare and food from hungry Americans that according to Republicans like Paul Ryan is crucial to “saving more money” for tax cuts for the rich.’

    Think about it and make sure all their asses are voted out in 2016 and vote out liars like Paul Ryan.

  16. I was thinking about what John Taylor said as I was mowing my lawn. The Republicans want to privatize Amtrak.

    Ok. Is that bad? As I understand it, the NE corridor for Amtrak makes money. 300 million a year. The rest of the lines total lose 600 million a year. So Amtrak is in the hole 300 million a year.

    Given my prejudice that private (for profit) business will always excel over government (screw it; ask for more money) programs, why not go ahead and privatize it?

    I eagerly await your replies.

  17. paul ryan makes my skin crawl, just look into his eyes! it’s like looking into a sharks peepers! he’s DEAD as HELL! he’s so in the back pocket of the koch brothers it’s ALMOST laughable! he’s just like scott walker! he looks like he’s been hypnotized! he’s sold out! these individuals have sold their souls for profit and their GAIN! But yet these same individuals scream to the american public I’m CHRISTIAN”!! I’m a catholic!! things are so bad for the GOP that their usually fascist catholic church is turning again them! POPE Francis can’t even stomach these hideous creatures! It’s hilarious how republicans can ALWAYS find TRILLIONS of dollars for self created WARS but can ALWAYS find a reason why the usa shouldn’t EVER get any infrastucture done!! isn’t that AMAZING @robert? WHY do YOU HATE america???!! why do republicans HATE america?? WHY?

  18. @robert , it’s apparent that you’re not very bright but that NEVER gets in your way from RUNNING your YAPPER! tell us OH MIGHTY ONE, what piece of legislation has the GOP introduced into the last 40 yrs that actually HELPED “WORKING” americans?? and I’m NOT talking about corporate america! Now watch this ladies and gentlemen, @robert will conveniently STFU, THANK GOD!!

  19. You are brain dead. The safety features that should be installed should work on all trains equipped with the compatible technology. Also, this is about money. It is about the republicons cutting money everywhere for infrastructure, from the VA to highways to bridges to airports to railroads. The reason they want to cut Amtrak is the same reason they rob the USPS budget. They want the organizations to fail so the can privatize it and further enrich their billionaire donors. Also, billionaires don’t ride trains so just middle class folk die. The GOP doesn’t care about the middle class.

  20. Robert, You seem to not be aware of your own assumptions. “… business will always excel over government…” Always? Really? Further, the killing assumption is that society is, and should be, driven by corporate profit – profit maximized by seeking out the cheapest materials and labor.

    It’s possible that a responsible society would see to the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness for all its citizens. I realize this is an ideal not well met, but it’s just possible that too many are looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

    There are numerous examples of government investment for the good of all citizens simply not reachable for private capitol. The most obvious is the nations federal highway system. Would you like to drive from New York to California on a collection of toll roads built by the lowest bidder? Think shared cost, not profit. Novel idea, huh?

  21. Your entire premise that private business is always better than government is flat out wrong. I managed very successful government programs for nearly two decades and we accomplished complete “turnarounds” of previously mismanaged programs. I was recognized as one of the best public financial managers in the US. All you need is the right people and legislators that will provide adequate support. We don’t have that support today with assclowns like the Tea Baggers in office. BTW many private businesses fail, about half in the first few years. Not an option for government.

  22. Robert, you are an idiot. Congress mandates that Amtrak keeps several rail routes open that annually lose revenue. No private business on Earth woudl do that, or could do that and remain in operation. If Republicans want Amtrak, like the U.S. Postal service, to operate like a private business, they cannot contnue deliberately forcing them to follow what any business would refuse to do. Bugger off!

  23. Wow, those are all great posts. Now I have something to think about. I admit my kneejerk reaction was “Workers of the world, unite.” But that’s not fair.

    Thanks for the non-insulting, informative input.

  24. Brian: Congratulations on your success. I don’t understand why government-funded ventures can’t fail. Why is that not an option? If you say: it’s the law, then that’s the problem.

    RJJB: That’s not a defense! Amtrak lines that are not profitable should be shut down. The government line is that it’s “other people’s money” is what’s wrong with the system. The Post Office should at least break even. Stamps are what-50-some cents? I’d pay a dollar to have a person come to my mailbox, take my letter anywhere in the world for a dollar? Good deal!

    John Taylor: Good argument: Fed. Highway systems are for the good of all. Putting a man on the Moon was something private enterprise could never make happen. Let’s just be careful we are not buying votes by telling people we will solve their (local) problems.

  25. Robert, the larger problem of any society is consensual uniformity. Not uniformity of results, but of opportunity. This isn’t something that can be stuffed under the umbrella of profit-making. Amtrak provides rail service to areas that have need, but not the local assets. That is the best possible goal of government support. But this statement leads us back to our assumptions. Can you see this? One world view says if it isn’t profitable, it doesn’t deserve to exist. On the other hand, a different view point is that we take care of each other. Sure, the costs are never even-steven, but what is our intent? Is it to be “fuck you, I’ve got mine you get yours.” or could it possibly be helping each other where we can?

    Obviously, I like the benevolence of the latter and am less than pleased with the maliciousness of the former.

    MY god! I’m a socialist!

  26. Robert,

    one wonders what your level of expertise in things having to do with the railroad and ptc is. have you ever operated a train? your comment that its as easy as driving a car tell me you haven’t.

    it remains to be seen if an equipment malfunction contributed to the wreck. without an inboard facing camera we may never know for sure.

    one thing is certain. this derailment and a lot of other problems Amtrak faces have lack of money as contributing factors. in this case, there should have been two people in the cab, like the freight railroads have. engineers have been known to have medical issues while at the controls, and a second qualified person in the cab could take over control and bring the train to a safe stop.

    for the rest of you, ptc isn’t a panacea. it won’t protect against broken rails, equipment problems, or obstacles on the tracks. it can only monitor train spacing and adherence to speed limits. you are still at the mercy of the idiot who tries to beat the …

  27. Robert your assumptions as usual are false. the
    would the private sector have ever built the interstate highway system? if you believe they would have you are nuts.

    the northeast corridor was, in fact, built with private money by two railroads, the Pennsylvania and the new haven. much of the track alignments, bridges, tunnels and the power distribution systems date to those railroads. the last real investment by the private sector was in the 1950s. by 1969, bith railroads were part of penn central. by 1970 it was bankrupt. the losses from passenger services on the northeast corridor.

    since the northeast corridor was conveyed to Amtrak as part of the bailout that created conrail, Amtrak has tried to improve it as much as funds would allow.

    as with most transit, it is public because the private sector wouldn’t run it right. what makes you think a private operator would do better now? history proves otherwise. and we can’t risk a shutdown as it as it is as vital as the inter…

  28. We all know what’s wrong with this country and we know what party is destroying it. Let’s stop talking sht and vote these low life rich Republican bastards out of office. Let’s stop this gerrymandering bs and lets get off our ass and vote these idiots out of office.

  29. Republicans hate America, one reason among many, segments of the population feel strongly that they should bring jobs back to the U.S. Only this time be like an undercover boss and pick their own damn Cotton & Tobacco. Let them see first hand what it feels like being thirsty & watching two nephews fight near the corn, over who can drink from the dipper first.

  30. This is what happens when you DE-FUND goverment agencies,,like the ONES we need like the E P A…just wait untill a town gets poisioned…SENATOR BOUGHNER…

  31. Anybody watch 60 Minutes Sunday? Disturbing study about the deteriating conditions of bridges across the country. One bridge has 500 trains crossing every day and was built over 80 years ago. Congress refuses to raise a fuel tax which would help pay for repairs, both parties. Paul Ryan and his ilk frighten the heck out of me. He doesn’t have an original thought, parrots whatever is popular. He needs to stop reading Ayn Rand.

  32. I am almost ashamed to admit that I live in WI.
    On the other hand, I am immensely proud to state very clearly that I have never and would never vote for any of these koch suckers.

    On the other hand, because I’m somewhat of a grammar cop, I have to point out an error the keypunched made in the artiocle.
    It is as follows:
    ” if Congress had provided the necessary funding to rail carriers “commiserate” with the mandate to install the Positive Train Control”.
    Someone in the keypunchers room needs to point out that the correct would is commensurate.
    OK, back to bitching about the ANTI-America gop clowns.

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