Saturday, August 6, 2011

Why start HSR if we can't finish it?

It never fails to amaze me at the insight and articulate sophistication that emerges from unexpected sources.  Here's an editorial from the Calusa County

We've devoted this blog to providing information and opinions (including those other than mine) about why high-speed rail at both the state level in California, and nationally, is really a very bad idea.  We thrive on finding the insightful writings of other people who make this point.  Here's a great statement that speaks for itself without my gratuitous comments.

I suppose that the basic question becomes, if we can't finish this project, should we even start it?

Our View: Budget deal will impact California
Friday, Aug 5 2011, 5:14 pm

California is about to learn what happens when appetites fed by Washington's deficit spending no longer can be satisfied. The debt limit bill signed Tuesday by President Barack Obama permits borrowing up to another $2.4 trillion, but this time only if government spending is reduced by a similar amount. Congress almost incredibly agreed not to increase taxes, a restraint long overdue and inspired by the 2010 election's anti-tax sentiments. Framed as spending cuts, the feds essentially will tread water.

But without increased revenue, Congress must now decide how to live within its means. Repercussions will be felt throughout 50 states. "California, overall, will take a special whack in the budget-cutting to come," the Sacramento Bee reported Tuesday. "The federal government spent $345 billion in California in 2009, and that will shrink."

Among those counting on a continuous stream of federal money has been the impractical, costly High Speed Rail project to link Northern and Southern California. "If you were to look at this Congress, you'd have to say it will be cutting high-speed rail," said Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River.

About $19 billion from Washington was counted on to help meet the train's low-ball projected $43 billion cost, let alone the $60 billion to $200 billion others estimate. We hope Washington's restraint prompts the Legislature to stop this train before construction begins next year.

Although the state's independent Legislative Analyst said in published reports Tuesday that there appears to be no immediate impact on California, Congress will be targeting cuts in defense, veterans' benefits, homeland security and foreign aid and intelligence from this year's budget

Any hope that California's beleaguered state budget will be propped up by Washington now seems far-fetched. Moreover, as federal funding is diminished, long-term state health care spending will increase, thanks to Obamacare mandates. Further cuts in federal health and welfare spending could shift even more burdens to the state. A special congressional committee is expected to constrain next year's farm bill. California farmers received more than $280 million in federal subsidies in 2010, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Expect a different strategy in Washington, as those who enjoyed taxpayers' benevolence protest the coming cuts, and begin to lobby to reduce someone else's funding rather than their own.

This is because $917 billion must be reduced over the next decade and another $1.5 trillion by the 12-person Joint Special Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. This is the inevitable consequence of government living beyond its means, borrowing $4 billion a day without a clue about how to pay it back. The day of accounting nears.

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