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Long Tra⁠i⁠n ⁠t⁠o Deb⁠t⁠v⁠i⁠lle

By: The James Madison Institute / November 22, 2011

The James Madison Institute

Blog

November 22, 2011

By Rushad Thomas, JMI Intern and Florida A&M University Senior in Political Science
It’s a well-known reality in politics that no one ever gets credit for a crisis averted. We’re much better at assigning blame for bad things that happen than we are at assigning credit for problems that we do not encounter as a result of public servants taking the road less traveled and doing the unpopular, but ultimately the right, thing.Florida Governor Rick Scott’s decision to reject the Federal high-speed rail money for Central Florida can certainly be considered one of those averted crises. The $2 billion Scott rejected would have gone to a rail line from Tampa to Orlando. As a February 18, 2011 New York Times article by Timothy Williams noted, Gov. Scott argued that the project could leave the State ofFlorida on the hook for more than $3 billion in the event that the rail line’s actual cost exceeded the Federal investment. He was also reticent to embrace the plan based upon the overly-rosy ridership projections for the line, with the state left on the hook for the resulting shortfall.This brings us to sunny California, where The Washington Post reports that an 800-mile high-speed rail line which was proposed originally to cost $35.7 billion has now been projected to cost a whopping $98.5 billion. One might think this tremendous cost overrun would prompt state leaders to stop the bleeding and pull the plug now before any shovels hit the soil. Well, that’s not likely. California Governor Jerry Brown’s response?  “[This] business plan is solid and lays the foundation for a 21st-century transportation system.”This is quite obviously ridiculous. The Federal Government recently reached the $15 trillion level in publicly-held debt, and currently borrows 40 cents of every dollar it spends. The current Federal debt level translates to a $197,579 debt for every American family. America is literally drowning in debt, and our government is spending billions and billions of dollars of your money and mine with no end in sight on costly and unnecessary bridge-to-nowhere projects like high-speed rail. To quote the Post, “Somebody, please, stop this train.”