tv [untitled] CSPAN June 23, 2009 2:30pm-3:00pm EDT
it's still not enough to cover this host: first of all, how long do you think you'll be in the hospital? caller: i don't know. i'm hoping they keep letting me out but they say i'm not well enough to go home. host: how old are you if i may ask? caller: 59. host: has this been a repeat problem? caller: this is the first time i have to go to the hospital. host: and you are covered through your husband? >> through department of defense insurance but it's not enough. host: so you're saying the health care on a first-person basis with your current situation, what do you think? caller: i don't know what to do? what am i supposed to do? i can't work, my husband can't work, we're paying for -- we get the one insurance free he pays for medicare, that's $90 a month, i pay for aarp, that's almost $300 and we're still not
making it with our health care. host: you're paying that per month? caller: yes. a month. host: carolyn we hope you feel better. caller: i'm hoping people can do something. we're veteran,000,000 husband is a veteran. we've got a lot of young boys coming back veterans, their families are going to be in the same shape mine is in and they're young. what's going to happen? we've got to do something. something has to change. host: thank you, carolyn. we cover a lot of british politics, want to update you on the situation with the house speaker, one of the things that happened on monday, the house of commons elected a new speaker, john bercow, he succeeds michael martin a veteran of the labour party, who became the first speaker forced from office in more than 300 years amid claim he is failed to curb the abuse of the
reports of the house of commons expenses. mr. bercow vow trode form the expense system for members of the house of commons. irena is next from florida. caller: hello. i'm a medical professional and a breast cancer survivor and a grandmother of an autistic boy. i've seen problems from both sides in many ways. and the mammoth in the room that no one is talking about is something that president obama mentioned in his campaign. and that is, in medicare alone, for every $6 actually spent on health care, the insurance companies are getting $11. the mammoth in the room is the profits of the insurance companies. that's why our health care is
costing 40% more per person in the united states as in the next most expensive country. host: in fact, we have a tweet from france that says, no one mentioned france in the health care debate, it's ranked number one and is private and public insurance. >> live now to the senate subcommittee hearing on high speed rail. we'll hear from the heads of am track, the federal railroad administration and others the witnesses are in place in the hearing room, we're rating -- waiting for the subcommittee chairman, mr. lautenberg, and the full committee chairman, jay rockefeller is there on your screen. we expect this to get under way live in a few moments on c-span.
>> we could do several -- we could do several things here. often at events which are meant to be full, they just invite members of the audience to come up and make it look like there's a big crowd up here. so you've got senator warren and myself, that's all you really need, but i don't want your egos to be upset. there's a lot going on today and part of it, obviously is what happened with the metro rail system. it's actually depressing, sad, that there is no current way for the ntsb or the department of transportation or anybody else, they can make
recommendations, but they have no enforcement authority. i did not know that. until this happened. and people can have a variety of philosophies about the federal government, but it seems to me that where you have a heavy train being hit by -- vice versa, a light train being hit by a heavy train and something went wrong and yes, we know, we'll speculate and it'll all come come out in the end and in the meantime, the only thing that really counts is the, you know, all those families of the dead and sometimes the families of the injured suffer longer. but there's no authority to tell them they've got to run a safe train. there are recommendation, but no authority. the chairman has arrived. >> hello. sorry the train was a little
late getting here. thank you, mr. chairman, among chairmen here, he's the chairman. thank you for being here, and my apologies for a couple of minutes off target. the -- what we'll try to do in order to expedite things is to -- we'll limit opening statements to the three of us, make them short and we'll ask the other members who may come to include their opening statement in the record or in their question period. we're going to work in five-minute cycles here. so i will start by once again thanking you all for being here. the roles you play are very important and we're pleased to have a chance to talk to you.
this hearing comes to order and we gather here at a rather sad moment. many lives were lost at the -- with the crash of the metro. and we -- there are numbers still to be computed of those who were not only perished, but those who were wounded. and what it -- it tells us, as we see the confusion that's followed, and the effort that's followed, is how important the use of the metro, transit system, is. and for the last few years, we look and we see that amtrak, because we're talking now about intercity but we can't ignore the contribution that transit
rail makes. the last few years, we've seen amtrak break ridership records year after year. and the -- in 2008, amtrak's ridership hit more than 28 riders, -- more than 28 million riders, making the sixth straight year of gains. these gains prove two important points. it establishes the fact that people are sick and tired of waiting in traffic, standing in line at the airport, and hailing dangerous -- inhaling dages emissions and just waiting indeaf -- dangerous emissions and just waiting indefinitely for their travel mechanism to be there. if we provide convenient and reliable rail service, americans will choose it. secondly, these gains prove that time cries out, this time cries out for a major investment in high speed rail.
we need to fill a rising demand for faster and more efficient rail service. for years, we've had flights -- beg and claw for funding against those who wanted to bankrupt amtrak, even as more americans were demanding increased amtrak service. in this chart we have here, in quick fashion, it describes some of the problems we face. for you who have a problem discerning the color the blue is highway investment, since 1949. aviation is the yellow and intercity passenger rail, you can just about see at the bottom is that green band. and we -- when we look at how much we've invested in highways and aviation system, it's
obvious that we invested too little in the -- in rail. now we're not suggesting that those other modes aren't important, but we need to investment more in rail. last year we took a major step forward with my landmark law to preprayer for the next -- prepare for the next years. it take -- takes $5 billion over the next few years to grow and prepare and we created new grant programs for high speed rail investment. it has been a long road but this new law finally paves the way for solid and ongoing federal commitment to passenger rail. fortunately, we have strong partners in the white house in president obama, vice president biden, and with the help of
secretary lahood. they know that to keep our commuters mobile, to keep our nation competitive and to get our economy back on track we cannot simply rely on cars and planes to get people from place to place. we need to balance -- we need a balanced transportation system and high-speed rail is part of that equation. that's why the recovery law we passed in february contains more than $8 billion for high speed and intercity passenger rail. this will not only improve rail service but create jobs. in this tough economy, these transportation investments are smart investments. they put people to work, reduce delays, and congestion, and cut carbon emissions and our dependence on foreign oil. president obama and his administration have presented a great vision for high speed rail network here in america and i'm committed to working with the president to turn that vision into reality and i look
forward to hearing from our witnesses on how to make that happen and i turn first to my -- to the ranking member on the subcommittee, senator thune, and then we'll hear from chairman rockefeller and ranking member hutchison. mr. thune: thank you, mr. chairman, for calling this timely hearing and we've got a dwibbed panel i want to welcome as well and look forward to hearing from all of you. my state is one of the few in the country that doesn't have passenger rail and you have to hearken back a long ways in theages of history to a time -- in the anals of history to a time when we did. i recall my father who is now almost 90, talking about back in the 1930's taking the railroad from my hometown about 130 to 140 miles, that was a fairly frequent thing, people
at that time traveled by passenger rail a lofment it's been some time since we had that in south dakota. we're dependent on freight railroading. i can probably approach this issue more dispassionately than most, since it's not something we have in our state, though maybe with the stimulus money we could get some. that would be nice. it is an opportunity, obviously, the fund that's been made available for high speed rail and the -- in the president's budget, nottle on the stimulus money but the other $5 billion in the next five annual appropriations cycles, but i also would argue it poses some risks. it's a great opportunity for advancing high speed corridor drment to address congested corridors but it's a great financial risk of to the taxpayers if the selection and management of the sprodget not carried out. this is the key area i'm most interested in hearing about from today's witnesses.
in my judgment, the federal government does a poor job of trying to decide how to spend its money. one common result is money gets spread thinly over a wide range of projects and as a result, none of them gets done correctly or quickly or the government uses soft criteria that results in choosing unviable or unsustainable objects. we find that cost -- original cost estimates were low from the beginning. how does the department of transportation and federal railroad commission plan to deal with these problems? specifically, what i'd like to hear our panelists discuss today is how will the projects be chosen, how will the department validate the data such as ridership and project kansases submitted by applicants and what oversight will occur and how will it be carried out to ensure that projects come in on budget and
on time. i hope congress will monitor how this program is implemented and i hope the program succeeds. and that when we look back five years from now and after spending as much as $13 billion as is envisioned by the president, that we'll see great progress. to me, it means trains that serve real needs that are constructed on budget and on schedule, filled with passengers making the routes economically viable. i want to thank our panelists for appearing today and sharing their testimony. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. the chairman of the committee, senator rockefeller. i want to make him a general, but -- >> thank you, chairman lautenberg. first of all, i want to apologize. i'm not on the judiciary committee. the white house is anxious to
have all senators meet with judge sotomayor before recess, i have been assigned a time at 3:15. that's kind of for life, for her, should she win, which i think she will. so i have to excuse myself but i do that without any misgivings, because this is frank lautenberg's passion and has been for years, really more than anybody. so i also welcome all of you, including governor rendell, i just told him, i never see him in person, it's always on television. and it's kind of exciting, you know to meet somebody like that >> mr. chairman, you don't know how exciting it is. i've worked with him. >> now, i agree totally with senator lautenberg that the --
on the excitement of high speed passenger rail. i've spent 10, 12 years either chairing or being ranking on the aviation subcommittee of this body. and it just occurs to me that we're down now, to relatively few airlines with lots of problems and if you just look at the pattern of people's behavior, they want to use fast rail. they want to use rail. and they want to use fast rail system of that's what this is about. i look at west virginia, people have been -- people don't necessarily assume there's a lot of passenger rail through west virginia, it's actually a huge fact, it is obviously in southwestern virginia also. in fact, our amtrak service,
which senator lautenberg helped so much, has increased -- has doubled in one of its lines in the last year. doubled. and the other has rizz bin 19%. west virginians don't travel endlessly, so this is a very important statement. earlier this year, senator lautenberg joined as he indicated with the vice president, the $1.3 billion application -- allocation to the stimulus package. it was called -- it was cold, the speeches were not interesting, but the money is real. that's what counts. and i have to say, in a nonpartisan fashion, that it is thrilling to have, as senator lautenberg pointed out,
somebody in the white house who wants this and isn't happy with the level of green up there. wants more green. i believe that passenger rail can do a lot for us as a country. that's not a cliche. we need to increase the use of passenger rail enormously, not just for passengers but for freight and we need to do it as fast as we possibly can. the -- it affect ours climate change. it affects 1/3 of our greenhouse emissions in this country. the department of energy's oak ridge national laboratories says the inner city passenger rail is 17% more efficient than air travel. that it is 21% more efficient than auto travel.
says something. so encouraging greater use of it is terribly important. i'll do everything i can, senator lautenberg to work with you to make sure we can do this and we will. it's inevitable. it's part of america's destiny. i thank the chair. and i apologize to the audience and witnesses. >> thanks very much, senator rockefeller. your position ss chairman of the -- as chairman of this committee is one that gives us encouragement that we can achieve the goal of ours of having a more important rail leg tour transportation system. we thank you for your encouragement. senator hutchison. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i am very pleased, too, to be at this hearing and also to have the opportunity to have a texas presence at the hearing because you and i, mr.
chairman, have worked far long time on amtrak, keeping amtrak viable and i will say that we've had a very productive partnership at keeping the national part of amtrak also viable and i think that is essential and now that we're beginning to see the possibilities for high speed rail, i think it becomes even more important to have the national part of they have system also have the opportunity for high speed rail to connect into amtrak and therefore provide really better synergism and ridership and service to both amtrak and the high speed rail that i do think will help ease the traffic congestion in many parts of our country. i was very pleased, you mentioned the amtrak re-authorization bill last year. the first amtrak authorization bill before this last one was
1997, i sponsored that one as chairman of the surface transportation subcommittee. i think we did some great reforms in last year's to begin the process of having a federal partnership for capital grant programs for states to be ailing to invest in rail. i think that's an important step forward to making it more viable. because any successful rail project is going to have to have multipartners. it's going to have to have private sector, federal, state, because it's so expensive. the early investment is expensive, but then it becomes much more efficient after it is finally built and established. i'm pleased to welcome mr. sabo, who will appear for the first time in your new position
as f.r.a. administeror, you'll play a big part in this. you'll have meetings to determine what the parameters for high speed rail should be. i think having them all over the country is another good sign. i just want to say that the -- robert exles, the former county judge, which is the county executive, in texas, of our largest county, harris county. he's now heading up the effort for a high speed rail corridor, the texas t-bone, it's a great plan coming forward and i think could go right into amtrak. it could have a lot of great results and i hope that it is one of the first projects that can get some of the stimulus funding that would be available. i think that it's great that he's here to talk about the national system and i just want to recognize governor rendell, who also is someone with whom
i've worked a long time and his brother is actually my constituent in dallas, robert, and also a good friend and someone that -- with whom i have worked also in dallas and in texas. so we have a lot of interest here and i look forward to hearing from the witnesses and it's a very distinguished panel. thank you very much, mr. chairman. >> we made a decision before that because of the size and the quality of the witnesses here today we would forgo additional opening statements and we'll try to deal with this expeditiously and have just five-minute rounds or six-minute rounds maybe to give just an extra minute for use as the members see it. i'd like to introduce the witness panel. a good friend and governor ed rendell of pennsylvania.
just like the people of new jersey, our neighbors in pennsylvania rely on trains on a daily basis. governor rendell has been a vigorous advocate for passenger rail and i recall clearly his satisfaction, but his energy in getting a new rail link between philadelphia and harrisburg and it met with almost immediate success and that's the kind of story we expect to see constantly. the honorable joseph sabo, the f.r.a. administeror. this is the first time you've been before this committee since your confirmation. we're looking forward to hearing how you're working to develop first-class rail passenger service, i know your head and heart are behind that. the honorable judge robert exles, chairman of the texas -- eccles chairman of the texas high speed corporation, ms.
susan plining, and tom skanke, commissioner of the revenue study commission, president and c.e.o. of the skancke company and we thank you all for being here and governor rendell if you would, please take five minutes to summarize, try to meet the target, if we can. >> mr. chairman, you forgot mr. boardman. >> i looked at you and -- fire that person. >> i've only been here six months. >> that's what happens, take advantage of relationships. i know, we're glad to have you, joe, you do a great job at amtrak, we're proud of you, i'm sorry, i thank you governor for the reminder. we'll start you off at a fresh
five-minute clock. >> mr. chairman, ranking member, it's a pleasure to be here. i think this is a tremendous opportunity for the country and i would -- i would analogize it to the opportunity we had when we built the federal highway city. i come here today wearing three hats, governor of pennsylvania, chairman of the governors association and co-chair of building america's future, dedicated to building and improving america's infrastructure i started with governor schwarzenegger and mayor bloomberg a bipartisanning orny swarkse believe that promoting intercity rail is a key priority for america's overall infrastructure plan. you talked about the success pennsylvania has had. teamed up with amtrak we invested $145 million and improved the time on that philadelphia to harrisburg line from 120 minutes to 90 minutes and in two short years, our
ridership has gone from 898,000 to nearly 1.2 million as a result of that change. if we build it right, people will ride it. i have no doubt about that. there has been similar progress around the country and a lot of emphasis on doing what we did. the harrisburg line is improved to 110 miles per hour. i'll talk about that in a second. i believe as we look at intercity passenger rail, we can't be content as a nation to build out 110-mile systems. if we do that, we're absolutely consigning ourselveses to second class citizenship compared to asia and europe. we have to find a way to build and finance true high speed rail. as you know, the train in shanghai runs at 268 miles per hour. the japanese bullet trains are at 170 miles per hour. the french t.v.g. is at 160
miles per hour. we can't be content to just build out an ordinary system. what will high speed rail do for us in addition to moving passengers and helping our climate control? it'll create jobs for our citizens. jobs in building out the system and orders for american factories. let me stress the importance of that. in pennsylvania alone, we have general electric transportation in erie and most of these factories tend to be in hard-hit areas of the country in erie, pennsylvania, they employ over 4 hourks people, -- 4,000 people, they are ready to build the next generation of high speed locomotives. in harrisburg, the biggest steel company in the world has a plant that build railroad tracks with 400 workers. with just this $13 billion investment, they intend to increase, maybe double or trip they will size of their workforce in doing such. t.g.v., the french rail system, is run by a c