Undoubtedly the top story today is last night’s Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia which claimed the lives of seven people and hospitalized over 200 people.
The train was going over 100 MPH. Whether this was the result of human or mechanical error has yet to be determined and will be up to the NTSB to conclude.
But this hasn’t stopped the Left from putting this tragedy on a political track. Over at NRO, Jonah Goldberg took the gang at MSNBC’s Morning Joe to task for buying into former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell’s argument that the accident was a consequence of a lack of government spending on infrastructure. Goldberg writes, “Disgusting. They just learned there was a sixth fatality from the crash and they used that to promote hackish arguments about the need for high-speed rail (Rendell went on about how in Europe the rails are straight for high speed not like our shabby curved rails here).”
Rebecca Leber of The New Republic picks up where Rendell and the Morning Joe crew left off in an article titled, “House Republicans to Cut Amtrak Funding the Day After Philadelphia Derailment”.
Well, that’s a loaded headline. OK, it’s possible that Leber didn’t choose that headline. But whether it was Leber or her editors, the headline is inflammatory and intended to send the message, “People Died & Those Mean Republicans Don’t Care.”
The headline is also extremely misleading because Leber’s article deals with funding, not safety. The main complaint is that the House Appropriations Committee is planning to reduce Amtrak’s budget from $1.4 billion to $1.14 billion. For good measure, Leber notes that Britain spends $8 billion per annum on British Rail. Although British Rail does receive some public subsidies, it was privatized by the then Tory government of John Major more than 20 years ago. Labour, of course, promise to re-nationalize it, but never did. But I digress.
Let me put this way. If this accident could have happened at Amtrak’s present funding level then how much more money would Amtrak require to have prevented this from happening? $500 million? $1 billion? Name me a figure. If increased government spending on the railroads is required to ensure safety then how come the freight rail industry is thriving and has an excellent safety record with far less federal government involvement?
What happened last night in Philadelphia is awful. Morning Joe andThe New Republic make it worse by promoting sensationalism over sobriety before the dead have finished being accounted. Their conclusions are premature. You could say they have gone off the rails. Let’s see what the NTSB has to say because their conclusions might have absolutely nothing to do with money.
UPDATE: As far as the Obama Administration is concerned it has everything to do with money. During the White House press briefing this afternoon, Press Secretary Josh Earnest discussed the accident and efforts by the Obama Administration to increase federal funds for Amtrak, but claimed these efforts have been blocked by Republicans. Earnest stated, “Unfortunately we have seen a concerted effort by Republicans for partisan reasons to step in front of those kinds of advancements.”
Unfortunately we have seen a concerted effort by the Obama Administration for partisan reasons to blame Republicans for the deaths of the seven passengers aboard Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188. Absolutely disgraceful.
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