Republicans Slash Amtrak by Twenty Percent

You know what this reminds me of?

House Republicans voted Wednesday to chop $260 million from Amtrak’s budget, less than a day after a deadly train crash that Democrats pointed to as a prime example of the dangers of shortchanging the nation’s transportation needs.

With the wreckage from Tuesday night’s six-fatality derailment in Philadelphia still dominating the news channels, the House Appropriations Committee voted 30-21 along party lines for a $55 billion transportation and housing bill that would give Amtrak almost a fifth less than its typical $1.4 billion share. The panel defeated Democratic amendments meant to restore or boost the funding.

It reminds me of when Bob Dole, during his vice-presidential debate with Walter Mondale in 1976, accused the Democrats of starting every war in the 20th-Century and causing the wounding and deaths of enough people to fill the city of Detroit.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself that this is an odd mental association. Why does the Republicans’ decision to respond to a deadly Amtrak derailment with a 20% cut in Amtrak’s budget remind me of Bob Dole making a partisan issue out of both world wars and every other conflict our country engaged in up to that point in the 20th-Century?

It’s because Congressional Republicans don’t see public transportation as a group project. Only Democrats use buses and trains. Derailments are their problem. There weren’t any Republicans dead on the tracks in Philadelphia.

You and I both know that this is false, but it’s the same kind of thinking that led Bob Dole to blame everyone wounded in war on the “Democrat” party. We’re not in this together.

It’s how they think.

[Cross-posted at Progress Pond]

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.