A train that careened off a bridge outside Tacoma, Washington, yesterday, and the latest reports show three people were killed in the accident. NBC News reports that federal investigators confirmed that the train "was traveling at 80 mph on a 30-mph stretch of track."
After learning of the incident, Donald Trump extended his "thoughts and prayers," while assuring the public that he and his team were monitoring the situation at the White House. But before the president said that, he had a very different kind of message he wanted to get off his chest:
"The train accident that just occurred in DuPont, WA shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!"
Even after a deadly accident, Trump can't quite bring himself to rise to the occasion.
But even putting presidential pettiness aside, the closer one looks at Trump's reaction, the more obvious the problems become. For example, while I've argued many times that the nation desperately needs greater investment in infrastructure, in this case, a train traveling at nearly triple the recommended speed suggests yesterday's derailment in Washington wasn't a failure of infrastructure.
For that matter, if Trump wants to talk about his interest in this issue, perhaps we can start with his White House budget plan, which called for slashing federal aid to U.S. rail systems, including a dramatic cut in grants for Amtrak routes.
As for the president calling on policymakers to "quickly" approve the White House infrastructure plan, now seems like a good time to point out that it does not currently exist.
In early April, Trump boasted, "[W]e're going to have a very big infrastructure plan. And bill. And it's going to come soon. And I think we'll have support from Democrats and Republicans." That was eight months ago. There's still no plan.
As for the still-under-wraps blueprint and its bipartisan appeal, congressional Democrats have heard some of the broad strokes the White House has in mind -- and Politico reported that they're not at all impressed.
The Washington Post also reported two weeks ago, "Even as President Trump and Republicans in Congress seek to cut federal taxes, the White House has quietly come up with a very different plan for infrastructure: It wants to reward states and localities willing to raise taxes or other revenue to pay for new projects."
Unlike the GOP tax plan, the White House's infrastructure package will need 60 votes in the Senate. Watch this space.