With the country facing a $1.5 trillion deficit, Obama wants $53 billion in high-speed rail

There is a reason why private companies aren't putting up the money to create these rail lines. Take a hint. Some much for Obama's oft repeated promise during the 2008 campaign to cut government spending.

Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday proposed that the US government infuse $53 billion into a national high-speed rail network. The announcement was met immediately by deep skepticism from two House Republicans that could be crucial to the plan's success, raising questions about whether it can clear Capitol Hill.
House Transportation Committee Chair Rep. John Mica (R) of Florida said previous administration grants to high-speed rail projects were a failure, producing "snail speed trains to nowhere." He called Amtrak a "Soviet-style train system" and said it "hijacked" nearly all the administration's rail projects.
Meanwhile, Railroads Subcommittee Chair Rep. Bill Shuster (R) of Pennsylvania said Mr. Biden's plan was "insanity," adding: "Rail projects that are not economically sound will not 'win the future' " – coopting the slogan President Obama coined in his State of the Union address. . . . .

More on investments. President Obama: “we can’t expect tomorrow’s economy to take root using yesterday’s infrastructure." Here is the problem: if it pays to make these investments, people will make them. Why is the government involved at all?

“This isn’t just about a faster Internet or being able to find a friend on Facebook,” Mr. Obama said in a speech at Northern Michigan University here, after viewing a demonstration on long-distance learning over the Internet.

“It’s about connecting every corner of America to the digital age,” the president said. “It’s about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers can monitor weather across the state and markets across the globe. It’s about an entrepreneur on Main Street with a great idea she hopes to sell to the big city. It’s about every young person who no longer has to leave his hometown to seek new opportunity — because opportunity is right there at his or her fingertips.”

In his State of the Union address last month, Mr. Obama called for securing high-speed wireless coverage to 98 percent of all Americans within five years. On Thursday, the White House released details of how he would spend billions of dollars for the plan, which also includes a high-tech wireless public safety system that would tie cities and towns together in the event of a national emergency like the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. . . .

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Blogger Raven Lunatic said...

To be fair, it seems to me that there was a reason that companies didn't put in the money for the interstate system, too, but that that was a great improvement in the total wealth of the nation.

2/10/2011 6:00 AM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Raven:
The railroads in this country were build privately. The only time that they got subsidies was around the Civil War, and those weren't necessary nor useful. Look at the subway system in NYC. It was privately built and operated until NYC regulations put the private companies out of business. If those investments pay, they will be done privately. Highways in the US used to be privately developed.

2/11/2011 11:44 AM  

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