16 May 2015

White House Blames Republicans for Amtrak Accident– Here’s the Truth

Liberal pundits have been musing about how Republican budget cuts could have contributed to the Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia earlier this week. Even the White House jumped on the wagon, eager to blame their political opposition for the tragedy.
But the truth is that an honest assessment of Amtrak does not reveal inadequate funding, but instead a picture of financial mismanagement and misplaced priorities.

Though the investigation into the crash continues, the left has already framed the narrative of the tragedy as a result of Republicans being stingy with federal dollars.

White House Press Secretary John Earnest said:
“The president has been a leading advocate, with strong input from the vice president, in investing in our infrastructure including in investing in high-speed rail, especially in the transportation corridors that are plagued with pretty bad traffic… But there’s been a concerted effort by Republicans to stand in front of those kinds of advancements.”
But was the rail carrier truly underfunded? A close look shows the company poorly managed the funds it did have, prioritizing employee bonuses and pension benefits over safety equipment that would have prevented the accident.
By order of federal law, a “positive control system,” which would have prevented Tuesday’s accident by preventing the train from reaching reckless speeds, should be in place by the years end. But Amtrak is expected to request a five-year extension on the installation.
Meanwhile, Amtrak takes in $3.2 billion a year in revenue. Out of that, an alarming $2.1 billion goes to employee’s salaries, benefits, and bonuses.
In fact, as The National Review reports, Amtrak even paid out bonuses it wasn’t supposed to:
“Did Amtrak fail to pay employee bonuses? No—in fact, it paid bonuses to people who weren’t even eligible for them, and then refused to rescind them once it was pointed out that they were unauthorized.”
Since it was created in 1970, the rail carrier has received over $40 billion in taxpayer subsidies.

Is it any wonder the company places zero priority on safety and equipment upgrades, when it can simply spend its revenue on employees and go to congress with its hand out for anything else?

The left will continue to assert this non-issue. But the truth is that Amtrak runs about as well as any government run business would.
Despite revenues high enough to sustain a private sector company, Amtrak fails to exist without added help from taxpayers. And when it prioritizes bonuses over safety equipment, these are the results.

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