A Scheme Wherein America's Passenger Railroad is Robbed of it's Assets by House Republicans and the Pirates of Capitalism
"With the public need for high-speed rail, there comes the private greed. The private sector vultures and their servants in the government are already circling to loot these valuable public assets. The resolution enforces the idea that the projects remain in the public’s hands and that workers are protected by the social justice laws that protect railroad workers and our families."
Chairman of the Passenger Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition
*Articles appear in reverse chronological order
A Congressman's Pet Project; a Railroad Boon
The New York Times, June 27, 2011
…skeptics question whether Mr. Mica’s real goal is to give a taxpayer-financed gift to CSX, the freight rail giant and a generous Mica campaign donor, which would get $432 million for its tracks and for upgrades to tracks it owns elsewhere in the state. Other Florida businesses close to Mr. Mica also stand to benefit if the project is built. “His dedication to SunRail is not for mass transit — it is for helping CSX to get government funds for its private freight lines,” said State Senator Paula Dockery, a Republican and a chief critic of the project. Read More...
Privitization would Jepardize Rail Pensions
Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-FL), June 28, 2011
Amtrak employees make up 10 percent of the national railroad retirement system, Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) said. Thus, they make up a provide a large percent of the money in the trust funds that pay for those retirements, the Railroad Retirement and Railroad Unemployment Insurance trust funds, she said. Read More...
Opposition of Proposal to Privatize Amtrak's NEC
BMWED President Freddie Simpson, June 21, 2011
BMWED President Freddie Simpson writes to T&I Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) and Congressman Bill Shuster (R-PA) "Your plan to sell the public’s investment off to the private sector is ideologically driven, cynical and short sighted and will not provide better passenger rail service in the Northeast. Ultimately it will result in more public money being spent to undo the damage done by the private sector... start working on the serious business of properly funding and supporting passenger service and high speed rail in the Northeast and around the country." Read More...
"Mr. Mica wants to privatize the northeast corridor for Amtrak. That’s wrong-headed, wrongminded. It won’t work. Europe’s tried privatizing... All it will do is create a bunch of robber barons again to come in, steal the taxpayers’ money, pillage the infrastructure, sell off the assets and then walk away leaving the taxpayers holding the bag for what they’ve done."
Veiled Attempt to Destroy Amtrak
Teamster President James Hoffa, June 21, 2011
James Hoffa's letter to Chairman Mica and Ranking member Rahall of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "The end result is that with no Railway Labor Act coverage, these rail workers would lose the right to bargain collectively or be represented by a union under the RLA. This ill-conceived legislation would also undermine the Railroad Retirement System, putting in jeopardy the pensions provided to over 525,000 annuitants. Benefits could be slashed even if payroll taxes are increased to make up part of the shortfall." Read More...
June 15, 2011 - Complete (too many un-answered questions) details of the Mica/Shuster proposal to Privatize Amtrak's Northeast Corridor.
June 15, 2011 - John L. Mica (R-FL) and Bill Shuster (R-PA) roll out a proposal to bring private sector competition to high-speed passenger rail in the Northeast Corridor and intercity passenger rail service across the country. Mica calls his proposal a "receipe for success".
After Mica’s and Shuster’s briefing, Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman held a press teleconference to provide his thoughts on their proposal. Read Boardman's comments, then read Amtrak's offical news release.
Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV): Republican Plan to Abolish Amtrak ‘Death Knell’ for Passenger Rail Service in America. “Taking a play out of President Bush’s book, Republicans are dusting off a chronically unpopular proposal that will cripple Main Street by auctioning off Amtrak’s assets to Wall Street,” said the top Democrat on the Full Committee. “Instead of abolishing Amtrak, Republicans should abandon this ill-conceived ideological assault on passenger rail service – just as we did when President Bush first proposed it – and work with Democrats to build true high-speed and intercity passenger rail in America.” Read More...
Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) vows to fight Mica's Amtrak privatization plan. The Democratic chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation said the end of the line for House Republicans' plan to privatize Amtrak rail service in the Northeast would be in the upper chamber. Read More...
Democratic Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin is proposing legislation that would make privatization of major transportation assets such as Amtrak far more difficult, if not impossible, by requiring the federal government to be reimbursed for its investment in that infrastructure before a deal could go through. Read More...
And this from Railway Age: Mica/Shuster bill: Reagan-Gingrich-Bush rehash? It seems as though every few years, somebody in the White House or Congress tries to kill or dismantle Amtrak. In the 1980s it was Ronald Reagan and White House Budget Director David Stockman. In the 1990s it was the Newt Gingrich-led Republican Revolution, which prompted Amtrak itself (under the leadership of the late, beleaguered George Warrington) to attempt a “Glide Path to Self Sufficiency.” In the past decade, it was George W. Bush and Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta pushing an ill-conceived privatization plan. In each case, the attempted destruct sequence fizzled out. Read More...
June 15, 2011 - Puppets of Plutocracy, or "Who's Pulling Mica's Strings?"
June 8, 2011 - Ranking Democratic House T&I Committee member Nick Rahall (D-WV) issues the following release; the "Amtrak privatization plan is short-sighted; we should invest in rail". Read more...
"Privatizing passenger rail in the Northeast Corridor will not merely affect train service in that region; it will have a crippling domino effect on train service from sea to shining sea. Because of its national scope, Amtrak is able to invest profits from the Northeast Corridor to offset less profitable long-distance lines in other parts of the country." Congressman Rahall's complete essay can be found in the June 8, 2011 edition of "The Hill".
June 2, 2011 - Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-FL) writes letter to Transportation & Infrastructure Committee leadership, re-dressing remarks made at T&I Chairman Mica's privatization pep rally of May 26, 2011. Read Congresswoman Brown's letter here.
Fact Sheet on Virgin Trains - The T&I Committee GOP leadership continually reference the Brit's "Virgin Trains", pointing to what they believe can be a model for Amtrak. This link provides the facts about Virgin Rail, and clearly indicates Mr. Mica is seemingly compairing apples to something that does not remotely resemble an apple. View the facts about Virgin Trains.
May 2011 - Appeal To Reason, General Chairman Dodd's "House Republicans Demand Public Transportation Dollars for Their Private Sector Sponsors"
May 26, 2011 - The NARP offers it's reaction to the T&I hearing on the Amtrak privatization scheme. "Decline in Amtrak employees from 29,000 to 19,000 is cited as evidence that Amtrak is a failure. But about half that decline is attributable to the transfer of MBTA commuter rail service to a different operator; another 2,500 decline resulted from Amtrak abandoning its mail and freight businesses and closing three former business units." - Ross Capon
May 26, 2011 - Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing titled "Opening the Northeast Corridor to Private Compentation for the Development of High-Speed Rail.
May 25, 2011 - Amtrak's VP High-Speed Rail Al Engel addresses our BMWED National Division officers at the International Association meeting Charleston, South Carolina. Mr. Engel's comprehensive report and power-point presentation titled "Amtrak and High-Speed Rail" is viewable using this link.
May 13, 2011 - An amendment introduced by Rep. John Carney (D-DE) to make rail security a priority in intelligence agency planning and budgeting passed the House today 221-189 with both Democratic and Republican support. Preliminary intelligence gathered from Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan hideout shows that Al-Qaeda had been plotting a terrorist attack on the nation’s rail system. Read more of Vote Count for HR754, Roll Call 326