When You Try to Make Something Fail, It Probably Will


Typically when something bad happens, you can trace it back to something. Often times when government fails, it’s clear why. In the case of the Philadelphia Amtrak crash, there is also a cause to the effect, it would seem.

While investigators are working to understand the causes of the deadly Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia, the Republicans’ best and brightest are adding insult to injury. On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee voted along party lines to slash $260 million from Amtrak funding. Meanwhile, David Frum, the man who brought you “the Axis of Evil,” brought some evil of his own to Twitter:

Awful that America’s railway lines are in such bad shape. If only the country had committed $800 billion to a massive stimulus program.

Leave aside for the moment that over 40 percent of President Obama’s 2009 stimulus program was delivered in the form of tax cuts. In 2011, every Senate Republican voted to filibuster Obama’s American Jobs Act and its $2 billion in repair and renovation money for Amtrak.

As you may recall, that $447 billion package was designed to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, especially in the lagging construction and public sectors, through large scale investment in infrastructure. In section subtitled “Immediate Transportation Infrastructure Investments,” the American Jobs Act featured this nugget for the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, also known as Amtrak:

Subsection (e) makes available $2 billion to Amtrak for the repair, rehabilitation, and upgrade of Amtrak’s assets and infrastructure, including rolling stock.

Now, it’s not 100% clear why this train crashed, yet. It’s also clear, regardless of the outcome, that our railways could use some upkeep. Clearly though, Senate Republicans are more interested in ridiculous conservative dogma than the safety of the public.


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