As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Coming SUPERTRAIN Domination

High speed rail got a big boost in the final stimulus bill.

And while many initiatives were scaled back as Congress and the White House sought to cut the overall cost, there were some surprise increases, including a quadrupling of money for high-speed rail projects to $8 billion.

The White House pushed for the added money in the final rapid-fire negotiations, seeing it as a tangible way to create jobs and benefit different parts of the country. It also added a futuristic element to legislation that has been criticized as lacking forward vision.

That could be just the author trying to wrap its head around it. In fact, high speed rail will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create thousands of jobs and offer a tangible benefit to the American public, finally bringing our transit infrastructure in line with Europe and Asia. While the California HSR blog is perturbed that this boost appeared to come from funding for existing mass transit and intercity rail systems, which is distressing, hopefully the normal budget process can fill in the gaps on public transit. You would never see high speed rail get this kind of money from a regular appropriation. This will restart some projects that needed to be chilled because of a lack of private investment.

Nevertheless, the wingnut brigade is going apeshit over an off-handed comment attributed to Harry Reid:

The madness continues on the right-wing’s crusade against a mythical high-speed rail to Las Vegas project that Harry Reid is alleged to have snuck into the stimulus bill. “Tell me how spending $8 billion,” asked House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) on the floor, “in this bill to have a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and Las Vegas is going to help the construction worker in my district.”

For one thing, if we stuck by the standard that members of congress should only agree to fund infrastructure projects located in their own districts, then obviously we’d have no infrastructure at all. This is a debate that I thought we settled in the days of Henry Clay. But beyond that there is no such provision in the bill.

There are millions of people who would gladly use that Vegas line - I've been in that traffic - and it's a reasonable project, but it is not currently on the list of federally designated HSR corridors.

Hilariously, one of the big areas for HSR in that map is Ohio, despite the fact that Ohio's John Boehner is a ringleader in slamming the made-up LA-to-Vegas line. High speed rail can be an economic engine for the Midwest, spurring growth and productivity, but these Republicans don't even know a good thing when it hits them in the face.

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