Friday, July 17, 2009

Stimulus politics

Today's Washington Post has an article about Vice President Biden's efforts to defend the stimulus bill from Republican critics, including Rep. Eric Cantor, the House Republican whip:
Cantor made himself a target of White House ire last week when he delivered the Republican Party's weekly radio address. In it, he called the stimulus package a "bill full of pork barrel spending, government waste and massive borrowing cleverly called 'stimulus' " and said, "Obama's economic decisions have not produced jobs, have not produced prosperity and simply have not worked."
Cantor, meanwhile, isn't above reaching into the stimulus grab bag to benefit his constituents -- a move that Biden has called him out on:
Although Cantor has been outspoken in his criticism of the stimulus act as wasteful and ineffective, he recently joined his congressional colleagues in urging the Virginia Department of Transportation to apply for stimulus money for high-speed rail.

Biden mocked that position last night, saying: "The very guys who are saying this is a terrible act want me to make sure you get high-speed rail. Isn't that kind of funny?"
It is kind of funny. What's not funny, however, is the cost of the proposed Washington-Richmond high speed rail project that enjoys apparent wide support in Cantor's heavily Republican district.

High-speed rail costs a lot to both build and operate. But let's just look at the initial construction outlay. Spain's high-speed rail system, that the U.S. is looking to model their own efforts after, has averaged $22 million per mile. The driving distance from Richmond to Washington is 108 miles according to google maps. Multiply the two and you come up with $2.376 billion.

That's enough money to buy $20,000 cars for 118,000 people. Or you could give $8,600 to help buy a new or used car to every single commuter that left Richmond's Staples Mill Amtrak station last year. And remember, this doesn't include operating costs or even the cost of the train itself!

But Biden and Cantor are more than eager to play the role of Santa Claus since it's other people's money.

1 comment:

Paradigm Shifter said...

To read about our own travails with light rail here in the Seattle area, I suggest the link below. It is highly instructive of even local government's penchant for underbudgeting for such large projects. Cantor's bid for federal stimulus money for light rail may end up saddling his local govenment with either higher taxes or disappointed voters.