Paul  Weyrich

As soon as Congress passed the $700 billion bailout, California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. asking for a $7 billion loan to make up for the enormous gap between the California budget and projected revenues. The Governor has since withdrawn the request but he nevertheless is supporting a proposition on the November ballot which would have California go further in debt, to the tune of $9.9 billion dollars, to build a high-speed rail system between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

I am correctly seen as a proponent of rail transportation. I must wonder if now is the time to build this "bullet" type train, given the State's dreadful fiscal situation. Shikha Dalmia, a Senior Fellow at the libertarian Reason Foundation, quoted the Governor as telling an audience at the Commonwealth Club of California that "...just because we have a problem with the budget does not mean people should vote 'no' on high speed rail." This from a Governor who said he intended to veto the bill which would place the issue before the people. He was against it before he was for it.

Proponents of high-speed rail claim it would create 450,000 new jobs. I have no idea as to the source of that figure but high-speed rail projects in Japan, France, Germany and Sweden have not created nearly that number of new jobs. Perhaps the proponents' claim that high-speed rail would reduce greenhouse gases would prove correct but the claim that it would reduce traffic congestion is somewhat dubious.

Dalmia points out that the State's general-obligation debt has tripled in the past six years. Without no new debt California would spend 6.1% of its budget merely to service the debt. The deficit keeps on growing to the point that the Governor wrote that remarkable letter to Paulson.


Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
 
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