Friday, October 21st, 2016

Despite the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the train is dead


The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is doing anything it can to keep the Milwaukee to Madison somewhat high-speed train alive. Today they even ran their train propaganda through their Politifact machine and declared that the rumors of the train’s demise are greatly exaggerated. Of course, that’s the same Politifact that is ready to pounce on any Walker reversal no matter how great or small.

Let me help the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Those rallies? They’re wakes before the funeral. Those DOT meetings? A waste of taxpayer money.

The train is dead, dead, and yes, quite dead. As dead as this parrot.

Let’s remind everyone what’s happened at the federal level. As I point out in my column this week for the MacIver Institute:

Nobody is sure what Wisconsin’s share of the cost will really be. The estimated cost of running the train from Milwaukee to Madison is $7.5 million annually. Train supporters are hoping the federal government will subsidize the train operations similar in amount to the subsidy for the existing train line from Chicago to Milwaukee.

However, no commitment by the federal government has been made for such a subsidy, and given the changes in the makeup of Congress, such money is unlikely to be forthcoming. The incoming chairman of the Transportation Committee in the House of Representatives has already announced his intention to review all high-speed rail projects. Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan takes over as Chairman of the budget committee, and he has already joined with Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner and Congressman Tom Petri to sponsor a bill to allow states to send back to Washington to pay down the debt. Congressman Jerry Lewis, the current ranking member on the Appropriations Committee, has authored the American Recovery and Reinvestment Rescissions Act to rescind any uncommitted stimulus money (mostly high-speed rail funding). At the top of the congressional ladder is the next Speaker of the House John Boehner who comes from Ohio where the new Republican governor was also elected on a campaign promise to kill the high-speed rail project in his state.

The federal government certainly is not in any position to be handing out more money to fund high-speed rail. The national debt will reach $13.6 trillion this year, 93% of the gross domestic product. The federal deficit is now over $1 trillion, forcing President Obama to propose freezing federal workers’ pay. Federal spending as a percentage of GNP has jumped to 25.55%, up from 20.65% in 2008.

As loan shark Herman Rabkin would say in the Sopranos, the federal government has no wiggle room.

That’s just what’s happening at the federal level.

Here’s the truth about the train: except for Ricky on State and a few rail-obsessed lefties, there is no support for it. The voters rejected the pro-rail candidate in favor of Walker. And if Walker were to somehow, someway decide that he was going to support the train, it would be his Harriet Miers moment and his base would abandon him.

Walker understands that. He understands the only people he would appease by supporting the train are those who would never vote for him in the first place.

The train is as dead as the Blue Shirt. On to the next issue.

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