Rep. John Mica (R-FL) continued his “holy jihad” against Amtrak, its 30 million riders and thousands of employees last week by holding his 10th hearing in the 112th Congress demonizing Amtrak.
The last three by the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee focused on what Mica thinks is wasteful Amtrak spending. Speaking of waste, let me point out that the committee has spent more than 20 hours in hearings – paid for by taxpayers – to make this case.
At this point, nobody should be surprised that the chairman, wielding the gavel for Speaker John Boehner and GOP Leader Eric Cantor, is again demonizing a publicly supported company that provides good jobs for thousands, and safe, reliable transportation for millions. The only subsidy this Leadership seems to embrace is a tax code that coddles millionaires and oil companies.
Remember, the head of the Republican Party today, Gov. Mitt Romney is no supporter of modernizing our transportation system. He says we should slash all federal transportation investments by nearly half. And, as we’ve seen and heard in a new video, he believes that 47% of Americans are freeloaders who sit around waiting for government assistance. So the Mica hearings are an extension of the Romney vision for our transportation system.
Gov. Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, have advocated on numerous occasions ending public funding for Amtrak. They even support raising the retirement age for workers under the Railroad Retirement system. Across the board, they want to cut vital transportation infrastructure investments — and the jobs they create — because they deem tax cuts for billionaires to be a better use of government resources.
Thankfully, Romney is, in his own words, currently unemployed. But the man who sits in the Oval Office today understands the value of America’s railroads and almost 1 million working and retired employees. President Barack Obama has invested tens of billions of dollars into Amtrak and high-speed rail projects throughout the country, and proposed hundreds of billions of dollars toward rebuilding our infrastructure as a whole. The benefits of these projects are two-fold: they put Americans back to work, and they build transportation systems built to last. And thanks to Obama Buy America policy, they further boost the transportation manufacturing revival started on his watch.
Clearly Romney and Ryan do not understand the value of these investments, they don’t care, or both. They have demonstrated a complete misunderstanding of the role of our transportation system in the broader economy. Mica’s public statements suggest he wants to build up our transportation system. I just can’t figure out how you expand passenger rail by killing Amtrak. As I’ve said in front of his committee (yes, I’ve testified on this subject 4 times since last March) this is “addition by subtraction.”
Enough already – we’ve seen this movie and each sequel is worse than the previous one.