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Florida Republican Says Amtrak Is A 'Money Pit'

On Friday, Florida Rep. John Mica said that Amtrak is a "Soviet-style" monopoly that should be privatized. He argued that “The United States has a third-world rail system, it’s a monopoly run in a Soviet-style operation, Amtrak. It’s not how much money you spend, it’s where you spend the money, and we are spending billions.” He shared his views on CNN's "Newsroom." This was in response to criticisms that Republican-led budget cuts were to blame for the recent Amtrak crash near Philadelphia that killed eight people. On Wednesday, House Republicans passed a $250 million cut to Amtrak. Democrats claimed that budget cuts led to the tragedy, which Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called "stupid" during a news conference on Thursday.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, a mechanism called positive train control could have slowed the train and prevented the crash. Yet, the mechanism had not yet been active on the track area where the train derailed. Mica also argued that more money won't solve Amtrak's issues because the money isn't being spent wisely. “We’ve given Amtrak between a billion and a billion and a half [dollars] almost every one of the years I’ve been in Congress. It’s where they spend the money. Amtrak takes the money we give them, squanders it. They’ve squandered it on bonuses, they’ve squandered it on food service, they’ve squandered it on all kinds of activities, most of which you can’t even tell because you can’t get a balance sheet from Amtrak.” Mica also said, “The private sector will come in and invest. They’ve done it around the world. They will provide good, efficient service at a reasonable cost and even provide competition so we don’t have to squander more taxpayer money in the Amtrak pit.”

Photo: Fortune

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