Commentary: Obama High Speed Rail Plan Officially DOA
Congress resoundingly refuses to allocate funds to boondoggle project
One of President Obama’s key infrastructure initiatives is dead in the water, reports Michael Barone in National Review. Despite being allocated $8 billion from the 2009 Stimulus bill and another $2.5 billion from the Democrat-controlled Congress, the President’s $53 billion vision for a nation-wide high speed rail network has flatlined.
The majority-Republican House has declined to furnish this proposal with any further money, while the Democrat-controlled Senate Appropriations Committee voted to allocate it a meager $100 million. As Barone notes, coming from Democrats, this is a blatant vote of no confidence in the high speed rail initiative. Following this rejection, it is nearly impossible to see a revival of the President’s high speed plans in his remaining tenure.
Allegedly, this sophisticated rail network was going to employ millions of Americans in construction, engineering, and railway jobs, while upgrading transportation access. State governments, however, never warmed up to this proposition, because the costs vastly outweighed the benefits. Once the initial government subsidies end, states would be left to pay for the mammoth costs of a higher-speed version of the failing Amtrak model. In fact, none of the lines would actually meet the technical definition of “high speed.”
The textbook example of high speed rail’s failure is the California High Speed Rail Authority’s gross mismanagement of taxpayer funds to build a veritable train to nowhere. Facing an upcoming Congressional election, Democratic incumbent Jim Costa received a $900 million grant to build a high speed line connecting two barely inhabited communities. This train to nowhere now sits incomplete despite having nearly $5 billion allocated to it.
As this case illustrates, the idea of high-speed rail is a transparent ploy at “progress” by putting America back to work- except that it is wholly unnecessary and any temporary construction jobs will be cancelled out by the extraneous government spending and taxes needed to maintain it. That both parties seemingly recognize this speaks volumes about how utterly this idea is a dead-end one.