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Letter: Don’t blame the GOP for Amtrak derailment

Don’t blame the GOP for Amtrak derailment

Doug Turner’s characterization of conservatives as stingy is not born out by the facts. Confirming other findings, the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s analysis of 2012 IRS data shows that nine of the 10 least generous states voted for President Obama, while the top 17 states supported Mitt Romney. Taxpayers in wealthy Connecticut gave only 2.3 percent of adjusted gross income to charity, less than half of what Mississippians gave.

The politically cynical idea that a lack of funding somehow caused a train going 106 mph into a 50 mph curve to crash is something only Sen. Charles Schumer could have conjured up after a dash to the nearest television camera. The tragedy was a classic example of government bureaucracy on display. Amtrak had installed the Positive Train Control system on this track but had not turned it on. It stumbled around for four years, spending $110 million on the systems while looking for necessary bandwidth in the Northeast Corridor and ignoring other alternatives. The Obama Federal Communications Commission seems to have had a similar lack of urgency, no doubt preoccupied by its first priority, getting the Internet under its thumb.

If money really was the problem, Schumer had the chance to fix it six years ago with Democrats completely in charge. However, only $1.3 billion went to Amtrak from the $840 billion pork barrel. While they were at it, Democrats could have raised the federal gasoline tax at least to account for inflation, again without any interference from those stingy Republicans.

Malcolm Vanderburgh

Getzville