At his weekly press conference, the GOP's "Crybaby in Chief" lashed out at a reporter for daring to question the role his party's cut-happy orthodoxy played in Tuesday's Amtrak accident. He called the accusation "stupid", claimed that "no money's been cut from rail safety," and then bemoaned the idea that "people take the bait on some of the nonsense that gets spewed around here."
Boehner wasn't the only thin-skinned conservative bristling at the suggestion that maybe, just maybe inadequate funding could have played some role in the accident that killed 8 people and injured 200 others. The ad we released on Thursday "Republican Cuts Kill ... Again" raised the hackles of countless conservative blogs, including The Weekly Standard and The Washington Times. The American Spectator lashed out at the "The Train-Wreck Ghouls" complaining that "The bodies aren't even cold before Democrats exploit them for more money and power."
Here's a question: What's more ghoulish: asking what role budget cuts played in the accident, or voting for $250 million additional cuts to Amtrak hours after a horrific tragedy instead of waiting 5 minutes to figure out exactly what happened? More importantly, if the GOP had adequately funded Positive Train Control, there probably wouldn't be any bodies at all, cold or otherwise.
Was the engineer driving too fast? Duh. Should that fact alone have killed eight people and injured 200 others on the most traveled rail route in the country? Absolutely not.
Russ Quimby, a retired rail crash investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board put it best. The "core failure," according to Quimby was having "no system to regulate the speed" and instead "depending entirely on a (single) human being."
That "core failure" is solely the fault of Republican lawmakers who have spent the last several years gutting Amtrak's budget. "Funding availability remains the largest obstacle to addressing the backlog of necessary investment in Northeast Corridor infrastructure" according to a 2014 report by the NEC Infrastructure and Operations Advisory Commission. GOP cuts have left a "state-of-good-repair backlog of 11,100 major projects and 4,800 basic infrastructure ones on the main Amtrak line that carries 11 million passengers a year.
Stupid is as stupid does, Mr. Boehner. A few more rail accidents like the one on Tuesday and you could be bemoaning the loss of your coveted speakership. Add in a bridge collapse or two, mix in a levy or a dam collapsing and your entire corps of hatchet-happy miscreants are going to be voted out on their asses.
We're watching you -- and we are going to be there to make sure our fellow citizens see the results of your budget butchering. Keep that in mind while you sit on your hands and stew in the air-tight delusion that cutting spending is a cost-free endeavor.
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