The rarified world of government was recently shaken to its roots by Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey. He cancelled a railroad tunnel that was to be built under the Hudson River to connect New Jersey and New York City. Based on the screams from the left-wing media, you would have thought that life in America had come to an end.
Once Governor Christie made his announcement, the left erupted in its usual, tiresome manner – on the opinion pages of the New York Times – with articles penned by two of its house leftists, Bob Herbert and Dr. Paul Krugman. Mr. Herbert – never a stranger to pointless hyperbole – decried the downfall of America as a great nation. He questioned why a country that built the Erie Canal and the Hoover Dam could not build a rail tunnel like the one that had just broken ground. Funny thing though – not once in his column did he mention anything about cost. Dr. Krugman similarly bemoaned the decline of the country, but at least he mentioned the estimated price tag of the tunnel: $8.7 billion. Of course, he then proceeded to dismiss the impact of this cost on the residents of Governor Christie’s state.
As one would expect in a newspaper written by liberals for liberals, nowhere was there any description of the facts and circumstances that brought Mr. Christie to this decision. The cost of the tunnel, which had been in the works for almost 20 years, had recently risen from $5 billion to $8.7 billion. $3 billion of this was coming from the U.S. government (which certainly can’t afford the money). Another $3 billion was coming from the Port Authority of New York – which they tell us is not the State of New York, but really is – and that state is hopelessly in debt with an out-of-whack budget. The last $2.7 billion was coming from New Jersey. The hitch was that New Jersey was on the hook for any cost overruns after $9.8 billion. Some experts estimate this to be $2 billion right now, with the strong likelihood that the final (overrun) bill will reach $6 billion, all of which would be borne by the 8 million residents of New Jersey. Mr. Christie considered that to be real money.
The elitist left, of course, was apoplectic. It’s not as if the Upper Westside Left really wants to make life easier for the “bridge and tunnel” crowd, who they live to disdain. Perhaps they’re worried that once wealthy New Yorkers realize that New Jersey has a sane Governor, they may start to flee across the Hudson to escape the confiscatory taxes of New York. Or maybe they’ve just never seen a government project that they can’t support, especially one that must be built by their labor union friends.