published Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Integrity vs. ‘free money’

The governors of three states — Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin — did something recently that astonished their political critics: They rejected large sums of supposedly “free money” that the federal government wanted to give them for costly high-speed rail projects.

When Ohio and Wisconsin rejected the money, Florida was in line to get the shares originally intended for Ohio and Wisconsin, as well as its own — more than $2 billion! But then Florida Gov. Rick Scott said that he, too, would turn down the federal cash. He feared that taxpayers in his state would be stuck with huge bills to run the passenger rail project after the federal money had been spent. So he issued a polite “No thank you” to Washington.

His concerns are clearly valid. The history of unconstitutional, federally funded Amtrak is one of constant subsidies and bailouts. Why would any state want its taxpayers yoked to this latest boondoggle?

But Florida’s rejection of the money angered the Obama administration, which wanted to make the train project in Florida “a showcase of President Barack Obama’s $10 billion high-speed rail initiative,” McClatchy Newspapers reported. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood expressed “disappointment” in Florida. Lawmakers in states that will split Florida’s share of the money mocked Scott for turning down the funds.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Florida had “ignored the benefits of high-speed rail.” She and other critics could not believe a state would pass up money for a pork-barrel project. But the governors of Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin understand something the scoffers don’t: There is no free lunch — and money for high-speed rail or any other project does not appear out of thin air. Our nation is $14.3 trillion in debt because our federal and state governments refuse to say “No” to wasteful spending.

The governors’ refusal of the “free” federal rail funds is an encouraging sign of better fiscal judgment. It should be praised, not mocked.

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fairmon said...

Tennessee and others need to pay attention. Grants and subsidies are tools of manipulation and control used by the federal government to undermine and control local and state governments.

The department of education is an excellent example of using tax payers money to manipulate their local and state governments which neutralizes and reduces the control of local school boards.

May 21, 2011 at 5:51 a.m.
librul said...

So America continues to fall behind in educational and economic rankings and our rail system continues to lumber along at 60 mph while France, Japan, China et al emerge as engineering and ecomonic leaders and people routinely travel at 250 mph.

Yeah, heaven forbid that American government should try to entice states to help our country compete on the world stage.

"Our nation is $14.3 trillion in debt because our federal and state governments refuse to say “No” to wasteful spending."

NO - Building our domestic infrastructure is NOT wasteful in any sense. Our nation is 14.3 trillion in debt because Congress continues to cowtow to the military-industrial complex and spend trillions on useless, wasteful warfare (largely for the benefit of the State of Israel - that boil on the butt of the world) and allow corporate vampires to suck the economic lifeblood out of our country, enriching the greedy kings of capitalism, while the people of the country twirl down in a spiral of joblessness, homelessness and bankruptcy.

A socialist awakening will come - and none too soon.

May 21, 2011 at 10:22 a.m.
nucanuck said...

As librul points out, investment in infrastructure is building a future, not wasteful spending.

Many Americans refuse to believe that they will ever want/need high speed rail, assuming that they will always be able to get in their car and go where they want. For those who care to see, the evidence is overwhelming that we are nearing the end of the age of the automobile as we have known it. The longer we fail to prepare for the coming transition, the more difficult that transition will be.

May 21, 2011 at 11:54 a.m.
axgrinder said...

Republicans have no vision of the future. That's why they make poor leaders. Controlling spending is very important, but you need to know when and when not to spend. High government salaries and benifits are ok with republicans because of personal gain. But talk about something like high speed rail that benefits eveyone and the republicans scream foul! I think it's time we get rid of all republican politicians who guard their personal wealth with gnashing teeth , but stand in the way of progress for the rest of of us!!!

May 21, 2011 at 5:03 p.m.
Czech123 said...

I don't see any dems turning down, or complaining about, their "high government salaries and benefits." However, I do believe that we must continue it improve infrastructure. Yes, that IS an investment in our future, as well as funding education. Sending money to countries that hate us, or for bullcrap projects that only benefit politicians, do nothing for our future!!!!

May 21, 2011 at 6:25 p.m.
hambone said...

What about the people in Florida, Wisconsin and ohio that are unemployed. Do they agree with turning down future jobs.

I bet if it were a GOP proposal these governors would jump all over the money and beg for more.

May 21, 2011 at 10:53 p.m.
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