No, Sac Bee, bullet train doesn’t have moral high ground

April 6, 2013

By Chris Reed

sacramento_bee.750The Sacramento Bee’s editorial Friday lambasting House Republicans for opposing using borrowed federal money to build California’s bullet train was noteworthy for its tone. The Bee editorial board seems to be under the deluded impression that project advocates have the moral high ground.

“The Government Accountability Office injected a sense of realism into the high-speed rail debate, detailing in its March 28 report just how large infrastructure projects of this kind work. But the naysayers led by House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, and Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, don’t seem to be listening. …

“A major issue, it turns out, is post-2010 congressional opposition. As the GAO notes, the Obama administration, as well as the governor, Legislature and voters of California, has committed funding to the project. But sustained congressional support for additional funds is ‘one of the biggest challenges to completing this project.’

“McCarthy was quick to prove the point. As soon as the report came out, he issued a statement that he was ‘developing legislation to stop more hard-earned taxpayer dollars from being wasted on California high-speed rail.’ Ditto for Denham.

“You have to wonder if they would have supported the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 that authorized $25 billion over 10 years to construct the interstate highway system. You have to wonder, too, if they would have supported the Pacific Railway Act of 1862 authorizing bonds and grants of land to railroad companies to construct a transcontinental railroad.”

The Bee’s stunningly selective memory

You have to wonder if the Bee remembers that the bullet train was sold to state voters in 2008 with lies about cost, ridership, jobs created, environmental benefits — and that’s only for starters.

You have to wonder if the Bee remembers that the California High-Speed Rail Authority has never been able to comply with the state law ratified by voters in 2008 that requires a business plan that isn’t dependent on taxpayer subsidies to attract private investment. This has led the rail authority to stop even trying to get private investors — another lie to voters.

You have to wonder if the Bee remembers all the evidence that the bullet train will never meet another requirement of the 2008 state law: that the bullet train make it from downtown L.A. to downtown San Francisco in two hours and 40 minutes — another lie to voters.

If the Bee editorial board actually thinks the bullet train holds the moral high ground, that is shocking. In its own way, Friday’s editorial is as childish as the L.A. Times’ 2011 editorial that invoked “The Little Engine That Could” to describe the LAT editorial board’s optimism the project could be built.

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