Scott Walker has an op-ed column where he attempts to explain away his ill-thought ideas on destroying chances for a high-speed rail project in Wisconsin. Let’s pick apart his “logic” for this monumental mistake.
Spending hundreds of millions of our tax dollars on building a new, so-called “high-speed” rail system at a time when we have other, more pressing infrastructure needs is not a plan for economic prosperity. Yet that is exactly what President Barack Obama did when he moved $810 million to other states for the administration’s obsession with creating a much slower version of European rail.
Walker still utterly fails to understand that the $810 million that was allocated to the rail project was ONLY for the rail project. The statement somehow disavowing the project by saying it was a slower version of European rail that the Obama administration is obsessed with shows a xenophobic tendency. Granted, he didn’t call it French rail at least. Saying that losing up to 11,000 jobs is not a “plan for economic prosperity” is something a college dropout might write.
Just as promised during my campaign, I refused to waste $810 million on a new Madison-to-Milwaukee rail line. My reasons are simple, yet compelling.
Simple indeed. Compelling? It looks more like “constraining”.
First, accepting federal money is not free. Even if the federal government was able to meet ambitious construction targets, Wisconsin would be liable for millions in state subsidies for ongoing operating costs. Taking on more costs when faced with state budget challenges would not be prudent.
Walker appears to think that federal money is not used to build roads. The faulty argument about Wisconsin being responsible for ongoing operating costs for the rail project completely fails to mention that his own assessment that it would cost $7.5 million. That’s less than 1% of the annual transportation budget.
Second, Wisconsin has significant needs to repair existing infrastructure. Crumbling roads, bridges, and even freight rail lines, are begging for our attention. Moving the precious few federal funds available away from these obvious needs to satisfy the dreams of a few are likely to have a devastating impact on the economy.
Walker might consider up to 11,000 jobs to build the rail project a dream of the few who would add a positive impact on the economy. The precious federal funds that Walker threw away would have provided for the repairing and improving the existing infrastructure of the rail system.
To get products from one part of the country to another, we need a reliable and cost-effective transportation system. We have one today, but it is in dire need of repair. Raiding funds from Wisconsin to fund questionable new “high-speed” rail lines in other states means less support for fixing crumbling roads, bridges and freight rail lines in Wisconsin.
Raiding funds? The $810 million Stimulus money that was provided was there to be used. Now, with Walker’s failure to understand the obvious, Wisconsin taxpayers will now be forced to pay upwards of $100 million for canceled projects and contracts. That’s money down a rathole that could have been used for better infrastructure improvements.
Third, the federal government is running up record deficits, yet it is blowing money on building new forms of transportation that most taxpayers don’t want and will never use.
Perhaps if Walker knew about a web site called Google, he could get someone to type in the three words “rail ridership up” and see that national news shows that rail ridership where it’s easily available is up in record numbers. This strawman argument about people not using rail to travel/commute is petty and inaccurate.
It would be like a homeowner who is having a hard time making ends meet deciding to build a new vacation home, even though their current home is in need of significant repairs.
No, Scott. It would be like a homeowner having the choice to drive somewhere in a car or to choose to take the train to go somewhere… perhaps to a vacation home. It would be like someone in Chicago taking a vacation in Wisconsin and having the choice to take a train.
Spending limited federal funds on maintaining our current infrastructure system (and not building new ones) would go a long way toward improving our economy and balancing our budget.
Improving our economy and balancing a budget would come easier when you don’t stop construction job projects and take away thousands of jobs.
Finally, I understand that only a limited number of residents would have actually utilized this train line. Statewide, a majority of residents opposed the line, and interestingly, a large number of people from the Madison and Milwaukee areas did not support this project. If the people who live there oppose the line, I can’t imagine that western Wisconsin residents support their taxpayer dollars going to fund this multi-million dollar, exclusively southeastern Wisconsin rail project.
Polls showed that it was essentially a 50% tie in polls when Wisconsinites were asked about the rail project. Walker’s distortion on the popularity of the rail project is the only way he can “win his argument”. Walker also fails to mention that Midwest Rail Project would have linked Green Bay to Madison, so his notion that it was exclusively in the Southeastern region of Wisconsin (where 85% of the people live in the state) is specious.
Walker states that he fulfilled his campaign promise to end the rail project. That’s like saying a drunk driver fulfilled his destiny by crashing his car into a tree.