Friday, December 16, 2011

McCarthy: California high-speed rail is a $100 billion bad bet

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a Bakersfield Republican and House Majority Whip, gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "California’s high-speed rail project was in the spotlight in both Washington D.C. and Bakersfield this week. On Thursday, I testified at the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in opposition to the HSR project as currently planned. This followed Wednesday’s action by the Bakersfield City Council, which voted to oppose the HSR project as well.
 "Like many members of our community, I have had long-standing concerns about this project and am glad that from the local level to the federal level, we’re taking a stand to demand more answers. From the costly impacts the rail line would have on our community to the enormous price tag and questionable ridership estimates, I simply do not have confidence that this project is even viable. And clearly the private sector doesn’t either.

 "To date, not a single dollar of private money has been committed. And while the California High-Speed Rail Authority has admitted private dollars won’t be forthcoming anytime soon, it does assume about $11 billion in private funding once they start building. This “if we build it, they will come” scenario is nice in theory, but it is not something I want to gamble $100 billion on. And that’s why I introduced legislation (H.R. 3143) to freeze all unspent federal dollars on this project.

 "Contrast California’s HSR project with this week’s announcement of Stratolaunch Systems, a new space travel venture spearheaded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and aerospace designer Burt Rutan. This is fully financed by private investors willing to take a risk on an idea they believe will be profitable. And that risk will mean new jobs and revenues for our local economies, as the first plane for this new venture will be constructed at the Mojave Air and Space Port. Speaking of Mojave, December 14 marked the 25th Anniversary of the historic Voyager Aircraft flight; the first aircraft in history to fly around the world without stopping or refueling. On Saturday, there will be a celebration at the Mojave Air & Space Port and I encourage folks to turn out to reflect on how our communities have made history and visit with some of the people behind it, including the Rutan brothers.

 "Earlier this week, the House passed legislation with bipartisan support to extend middle class tax relief, reform our unemployment insurance system to make it more accountable and compel the President to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, which can create tens of thousands of jobs now if it were not blocked by federal bureaucrats. The legislation also included a provision that ensures our seniors continue to have access to doctors by preventing a massive payment cut to physicians who treat Medicare beneficiaries. And we did it all without raising taxes or adding to our debt.
 "I remain optimistic that we can bring our nation back stronger than ever, and I will continue to fight for policies that empower the families and small business owners in our communities.

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