SO MUCH FOR HIGH-SPEED RAIL…. Following up on an item from a month ago, it’d be an understatement to say the United States has an infrastructure problem. We’re currently “saddled with a rapidly decaying and woefully underfunded transportation system,” which undermines our economy and weakens our position against global competitors.
A bipartisan investigation recently found that U.S. investment in preservation and development of transportation infrastructure “lags so far behind that of China, Russia and European nations that it will lead to ‘a steady erosion of the social and economic foundations for American prosperity in the long run.'”
That’s the bad news. The good news is, President Obama seems deeply interested in making infrastructure investments a real priority, and approves of the kind of policies the bipartisan panel of experts endorsed, including “continued development of high-speed rail systems better integrated with freight rail transportation, and expansion of intermodal policies rather than reliance on highways alone to move goods and people.”
So, there’s reason for optimism, right? Sure, we have a serious national problem, but we know how to fix it, and we have a White House that wants to do the right thing. Especially when it comes to high-speed rail, which has broad national appeal, the president has already begun making key investments.
Brad Johnson reminds us that Republican governors have a very different idea.
Republicans who were elected on Tuesday are beginning to deliver on their campaign promises to kill America’s future. Within hours of declaring victory, the incoming tea-party governors of Wisconsin and Ohio stood fast on pledges to kill $1.2 billion in funding for high-speed rail in their states. The funding, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will revert to the federal government for investment in other states — unless Republicans in Congress are able to kill that, too.
[Wisconsin’s Scott] Walker warned he would fight President Obama to keep the Milwaukee-Madison link killed “if he tries to force this down the throats of the taxpayers.” [Ohio’s John] Kasich — who called the high-speed rail project linking Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati “one of the dumbest ideas” he’s ever heard — used his victory speech to announce, “That train is dead.”
I’d just add that, though it hasn’t come up this week, Florida Gov.-elect Rick Scott (R) also intends to kill the rail project linking Orlando and Tampa.
We are, by the way, talking about projects that create jobs, spur economic development, relieve traffic congestion, and help the environment, all while offering the promise of transforming American transportation in the 21st century.
Republicans don’t care.
The Republican line used to be that they can keep the trains running on time. The new line is that they can’t keep the trains running at all.