House GOP Knows Who The Public-Trust Abuser Is, And It's Joe Biden Taking A Train
Joe Biden, during his Senate career, commuted between his Delaware palace and Washington DC. He took the 90-minute trip on Amtrak twice a day for 36 years. It's how he gained a reputation as a devoted family man, as well as the somewhat on-the-nose nickname “Amtrak Joe."
The former vice president is estimated to have logged more than two million miles on Amtrak, and he's adding more during his presidential campaign. Biden's campaign has chartered a nine-car private train for a tour of key Rust Belt states. That's adorable, but Republicans, who are desperate, believe Biden's actions are — get this! — a threat to public health. These are not serious people.
Republican members of the US House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure sent a letter on Wednesday to Amtrak CEO William Flynn demanding information on Amtrak Joe's train trips.
We are concerned that the Biden campaign's use of Amtrak's charter train redirected Amtrak's scarce resources during a time of record losses, employee layoffs, and service cuts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, Amtrak has started cutting its workforce by roughly 2,000 employees. On October 1, 2020, it began sharp reductions in several of its routes due to the drop in ridership and the need to conserve resources. Amtrak also more than doubled its original congressional funding request for Fiscal Year 2021 to an unprecedented $4.9 billion. to maintain service through the year. We are concerned that the apparent use of a struggling, resource-deprived, publicly-run service for political gain does not serve the best interests of Amtrak or the American taxpayers at this time. Given that the Biden campaign declined to disclose what it paid to use Amtrak's resources, we want to ensure that the campaign paid a full, non-discounted rate.
These petty assholes are really concerned! Did future former Maine Senator Susan Collins help write this crap? The authors are listed as Arkansas Rep. Rick Crawford, the ranking member, Ohio Rep. Bob Gibbs, and Pennsylvania Reps. Scott Perry and Lloyd Smucker. They are all idiots.
There's a lot of stupid to unpack here. COVID-19 did hit Amtrak hard. There's far less travel now, especially for business, and Amtrak has had to make extensive cuts. So what would you think they would want? Some business! Even if we stipulated that the Biden campaign received a discounted rate, which we absolutely do not — Biden's campaign isn't the one hurting for money — Amtrak benefits from the exposure of a presidential nominee using its service and demonstrating that it's safe. The Republicans even cite the Biden ad that "used footage of Amtrak's trains, facilities, and employees," which someone possessing a brain might also consider a free commercial for Amtrak. But someone with a brain might also note that the president of the United States just literally held his Republican National Convention in the White House Rose Garden, after filming a campaign ad in a naturalization ceremony. And they want to act like someone filming a train station is some sort of exploitation of the public trust?
You can tell Biden was a regular Amtrak rider because the ad states that his trip took four hours instead of the scheduled three.
Thanks, dummies, for giving us another chance to share this wonderful Biden ad. Seriously, everyone who reads your stupid letter to Amtrak is going to search for the ad you went out of your way to mention.
These fools go on to note that “freight trains have proven essential and resilient in transporting essential goods, including medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE), during the pandemic." That's true!
However, we question whether the Biden campaign's use of Amtrak caused delays of freight trains at a time when supplies are crucial.
We'd like to stop to note admiringly the chutzpah it takes to blame Joe Biden for slowing down the arrival of any necessary PPE while also worrying that he might not make the trains run on time. And even if we weren't talking about Jared Kushner and the administration's blithe disregard for the public health, the spurious accusation fails just about every test. If you've actually ridden on an Amtrak train in, well, ever, you'd have noticed how often passenger travel is delayed because of freight train traffic. Federal law gives passenger trains priority, but that's almost always ignored. Amtrak has complained on its own website how it's powerless to prevent freight trains from delaying passenger trains. Biden can't fix this problem for them. That's actually up to the Department of Justice, which is currently under Republican control.
The Republicans demand answers to 10 questions of escalating dumbness that are intended to determinate "whether the Biden campaign's charter train delayed any Amtrak trains or disrupted any Amtrak services" and if the campaign remained in compliance to COVID-19 guidelines. That last one is especially laughable because it's not the Biden campaign that's falling like dominoes coughed on by someone with coronavirus.
The deadline for a response is November 2, which is by total coincidence the day before the presidential election. According to Bloomberg, Biden's September filing with the Federal Election Commission included a $265,000 charge for "train lease," which might more than cover the lush accommodations of a private Amtrak train.
The Washington Post reports that Biden didn’t try to pull a fast one like a common Trump:
Amtrak says that the starting rate for a charter is $30,000, and that no discount was given. "We can't provide the cost, but can share that we did make money, as we aim to do for any charter," Amtrak said in a statement.
The Biden campaign also threw some shade, pointing out that "anyone can charter a train with Amtrak."
"Last time we checked, no one can charter the White House South Lawn for a political convention," Biden spokesman Matt Hill said in a statement. "Instead of wasting time on political stunts, congressional Republicans should stop ignoring Donald Trump's blatant abuses of taxpayer money and government resources to enrich himself and his businesses.”
Donald Trump's campaign rallies, even before they became traveling superspreader circuses, have cost cities millions that he's yet to pay. Unfortunately, Republicans will have to wait until Biden's actually president before they can annoy him to death with nonsense.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."