Magical thinking Monday from delusional Don

The White House will release two documents on Monday: its much-ballyhooed infrastructure plan and its 2018 budget. Readers should file both documents under the genre of “science fiction.” The White House’s week of magical thinking.

The Washington Post reports, Trump’s big infrastructure plan has a lot of detail on everything but how to pay for it:

President Trump is poised to unveil a long-awaited plan Monday that aims to stimulate $1.5 trillion in new spending on the country’s ailing infrastructure over the coming decade, but many lawmakers in both parties say the president isn’t providing a viable way to pay for his initiative.

A year in the making, the proposal is an attempt to fulfill a marquee campaign promise and would rely heavily on states, localities and the private sector to cover the costs of new roads, bridges, waterways and other public works projects.

The plan calls for investing $200 billion in federal money over the coming decade to entice other levels of government and the private sector to raise their spending on infrastructure by more than $1 trillion to hit the administration’s goal of $1.5 trillion in new funding over 10 years. It also seeks to dramatically reduce the time required to obtain environmental permits for such projects.

For now, the White House is suggesting that lawmakers cut money from elsewhere in the budget, including some existing infrastructure programs. That prospect seems unlikely given that Congress just last week reached a bipartisan deal to spend significantly more funds over the coming two years.

I think it’s just dead on arrival. . . . It’s not a plan that will really work,” said Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), a member of the House Problem Solvers Caucus that works on bipartisan solutions. “Are Republicans going to embrace any kind of funding plan besides stealing from Peter to pay Paul within the federal government?”

* * *

In a briefing over the weekend for reporters, senior White House aides stressed that Trump’s plan is intended to be an opening bid on legislation that will require bipartisan cooperation to pass.

“This in no way, shape or form should be considered a take-it-or-leave-it proposal,” said one senior official, who requested anonymity to provide a preview of the president’s plan. “This is the start of a negotiation — bicameral, bipartisan negotiation — to find the best solution for infrastructure in the U.S.”

As crafted, the plan faces obstacles in both parties.

* * *

The idea that $200 billion in federal money will leverage more than $1 trillion in overall infrastructure investment is “just a prayer and hope,” said Martin Klepper, who served most of last year as executive director of the Department of Transportation’s Build America Bureau.

Who is going to come up with all that extra money? The states are broke,” said Klepper, who joined the Transportation Department in early January 2017 and resigned in November. He had hoped to help shape an infrastructure plan along the lines of what Trump promised during the campaign. However, he said, he found “a real gap between the president’s articulation and the meat of this proposal.”

In addition to his infrastructure proposal, Trump also plans to release his budget blueprint for the coming fiscal year on Monday. Trump plan will drop GOP’s traditional goal of balancing budget within 10 years:

President Trump is remaking the Republican economic playbook in his own image, abandoning ideological consistency in ­favor of a debt-busting strategy that will upend how Washington taxes and spends trillions of dollars each year.

On Monday, Trump is slated to announce a new budget plan that will no longer seek to eliminate the deficit over the next decade, forfeiting a major Republican goal, according to three people familiar with the document. The plan will call for a range of spending cuts that reduce the growth of the deficit by $3 trillion over 10 years, but it will not attempt to balance the federal budget, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the proposal before its official release.

The decision to relinquish the deficit goal comes after Trump pushed a $1.5 trillion tax cut through Congress late last year and signed a two-year budget deal last week that lifts federal spending limits by $500 billion, suspends for one year the ceiling on the national debt [and includes additional tax cuts] and is expected to lead to $1 trillion annual budget deficits. [So in excess of $3 trillion in deficit spending without any pay-for offsets.]

The Republican turnaround on economic policy stands in sharp contrast to the party’s opposition to President Barack Obama’s stimulus program during the Great Recession [when deficit spending is warranted.]

Now, GOP leaders are largely silent on the two issues that had preoccupied them for the past decade — total spending and the growth of federal entitlements — while Trump has signed legislation that will lavish cash upon both defense and domestic programs far beyond what he had earlier proposed.

* * *

A month and a half before signing the spending legislation, Trump demonstrated similar ideological flexibility with his tax cut, shelving his campaign promise to focus on the “forgotten men and women” and signing a bill whose biggest benefits flow to corporations and the wealthy.

One of the biggest flash points is likely to be his decision to no longer aim to balance the budget over 10 years. That had been a North Star for the Republican Party for several decades, and GOP lawmakers took the government to the brink of default in 2011 when they demanded a vote on an amendment to the Constitution that would prohibit the government from spending more than it takes in.

It could not be learned how large the White House projects the deficit will be after 10 years, the normal window for an administration’s budget. But the White House is expected to project that the economy will grow at a much stronger clip than many economists think will occur [magical thinking]. That means the deficit may be still larger than the White House predicts.

“This is Trump’s party right now,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a frequent critic of the president, said in a phone interview. “Everybody who’s running for reelection will tell you that. It’s primary season, and there just isn’t much talk about fiscal issues.”

To some degree, the president and his congressional allies are harking back to the policies of a free-spending, tax-cutting predecessor Trump has long maligned — George W. Bush.

But Bush cut taxes and ramped up spending when the United States had generated small budget surpluses for two consecutive years [under President Clinton] and the federal debt was less than half its current size, compared with the overall economy.

Trump’s tax and spending plan will shower the economy with hundreds of billions of additional dollars in coming years, which is expected to spur growth but risks a cycle of rising prices. Financial markets have been selling off, in part, because of inflation fears.

“The economy appears to be on the verge of overheating and ­arguably needs less, not more, stimulus,” economist Jim O’Sullivan of High Frequency Economics said in a research note Friday.

* * *

The budget accord [last week] represents an emphatic end to a Republican era dominated by the anti-spending Tea Party. That grass-roots group reached its zenith in 2011 when congressional Republicans forced Obama to agree to the Budget Control Act, which established spending caps on defense and nondefense spending as the price for averting a default on government debt.

The $1 trillion annual deficits will act as rocket fuel on an economy that already is running hotter than the Federal Reserve says is sustainable. The danger is that adding demand to the economy, at a time when unemployment is low, will push wages and then prices higher and higher.

Such an inflationary spiral would force the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates to cool off the economy, which would make Washington’s spending problem even worse by increasing the interest bill on the national debt.

It also threatens to leave the United States unable to respond adequately to a recession.

* * *

The Fed, led by new chairman Jerome H. Powell, was already expected to act this year to slow an economic expansion that — at almost nine years old — is the third-longest since 1854.

Central bank officials are expected to increase interest rates three times this year while simultaneously selling off some of the trillions of dollars of Treasury bonds the Fed bought during the financial crisis to keep rates low.

That maneuver, effectively reversing the extraordinary pump-priming known as “quantitative easing,” which was used to repair the economy after the housing crash, has never been done before. Some analysts say that the delicate exercise could shake asset prices across global stock and bond markets.

* * *

Even before Congress passed the budget-busting measure, Wall Street analysts upgraded their economic forecasts to take account of the added stimulus. Higher government spending could add up to 0.5 percentage points to this year’s growth rate, pushing the annual figure to 2.8 percent, according to O’Sullivan, of High Frequency Economics [still missing the Trump administration’s target of 3.0 percent.]

In any event, the budget proposals of presidents are almost always dead on arrival in Congress. There is virtually no chance that the Trump budget will be enacted as he proposes.

So what about the runaway deficit spending ride that “the King of Debt” is taking the GOP on?

Economist Jared Bernstein explains, Worried about ever larger deficits? Either put new revenue on the table, or learn to love red ink.

[W]ith the combination of the deficit-financed tax cut and the similarly financed new budget deal, my morning papers are replete with articles about “ballooning deficits” and forthcoming new fights over the debt. This raises at least three interesting questions: are these higher deficits a problem, will politicians pay a political price for them, and what can be done to reduce the red ink?

My answers, which I fear may not be very satisfying: it depends, I doubt it, and higher taxes.

Are higher deficits a problem? Because deficits tend to be countercyclical — they go down when the economy goes up — our current fiscal policy is highly unusual. The deficit as a share of gross domestic product is expected to be around 4 percent to 6 percent over the next few years. In the past, when the unemployment rate has been as low as it is now (4.1 percent), that deficit ratio has been close to zero. It’s not unusual for the deficit to be the same as the unemployment rate in a downturn — they both got up to around 10 percent in the last recession. That’s very much as it should be, as extra government spending is need to offset the private sector demand contraction. But it’s very unusual at this stage of the expansion.

But “unusual” isn’t necessary bad. Brand-new estimates from Alec Phillips at Goldman Sachs finds that the impact on growth from fiscal policy should be about an extra 0.7 percentage points in 2018 and 0.6 points in 2019. Those are not huge numbers in this context, and if, as I believe to be the case, there’s still slack in the job market — some people and places that have yet to be reached by the recovery, now in its ninth year — then this new “fiscal impulse” could push the unemployment rate down even further. If unemployment falls to the mid-3’s by the end of this year, I strongly suspect the benefits of growth will find their way to those who’ve been left behind.

However, if we’re already at full employment — if the economy’s resources are essentially already fully utilized — instead of generating real activity (more jobs, higher real wages), we’ll just get more inflation and higher interest rates, which will slow growth. If inflation starts climbing quickly, the Federal Reserve will move from brake-tapping to brake-slamming, raising the benchmark interest rate it controls a lot faster than currently planned.

In other words, the answer to this first question is it depends on how full the economy water glass is. If it’s already at the brim, we’re just going to end up with spillage (inflation). If there’s room for more water, we’ll reach some people who deserve a slice of the pie (whoops — mixed metaphor overload! . . . my bad!).

Will politicians pay a cost for voting for higher debt? Typically, they haven’t, and I can’t see why this time should be different. If the economics turns out badly — glass is full, water spills out, etc. — perhaps, but I’d be surprised. Most polls show that people have learned to live with historically high debt levels, and who can blame them? Warnings of deficit doom have never come to pass. To the contrary, as noted, we’re currently living with high deficits and low unemployment.

But there’s another way that these deficits are unequivocally bad: I’ve had it with politicians telling us, in so many words, “You can have everything you want folks, and you never have to pay for it!” I’m afraid others fail to share my disgust, so again, there’s probably no political fallout from that construct.

The reason, of course, circles right back to the deficit, but with an important detour through tax policy. Most politicians’ basic understanding of fiscal policy these days comes down to this: They’re convinced their constituents don’t want to pay higher taxes, nor do they want to lose what the government currently provides for them. What policymakers intuit from this is that if you want to keep the people happy, just put everything on the debt. As long as the economy keeps growing faster than the cost of servicing the debt, we’ll be fine.

Until it all breaks down and we can no longer pay for the things we want and need given current revenue intake. Which raises the final point.

How do we get out of this jam? By ending the implicit ban on raising taxes. As Paul Van de Water points out here, and this is obvious based on our aging population alone, simply maintaining current services is going to require more revenue, not less. Add in our infrastructure needs, geopolitical risk, recessionary risks (it’s out there somewhere, folks!), climate, and more, and at some point, the current construct of “you can have X while paying for but a fraction of X” will mean either higher taxes or a lot less X.

On that point, you may be thinking: Why raise more tax revenue? Why not just cut spending? Don’t we have mandatory budget caps in place to do just that?!

Allow me to refer you to the new budget plan, which, for the record, is not all bad — there’s some useful spending in there. But almost every time we hit one of these budget impasses, they break through the caps and put the new spending on the deficit. The evidence is unequivocal: The political dynamics are such that cutting spending will not get us out of our fiscal quandary.

Dress it up any way you like, but here’s the reality: We either put new revenue on the table, or resign ourselves to ever larger deficits and debt.

18 responses to “Magical thinking Monday from delusional Don

  1. Bernie Sanders
    ‏Verified account
    20h20 hours ago

    Donald Trump will receive a tax break of up to $11 million a year as a result of the Republican tax plan he signed into law.

    Meanwhile, President Trump’s budget would eliminate after school programs for more than 1 million children.

    • For Sure Not Tom

      Liza, older white men came up with this tax plan, and as a white man of a certain age, I think I can help explain this.

      Mansplain, if you will.

      First, we borrow against the deficit and debt to fund a tax cut for American’s that will expire in a few years while the tax cuts for the wealthiest multinational corporations are permanent.

      Next, regular Americans use that money to pay off credit cards and then later to make up for the money the richest multinational corporations will not be paying.

      And the economy booms! See?

      Wait, crap, now that’s I’ve mansplained it, it really doesn’t make any sense.

      Sorry. Turns out Republicans are dumb as an old wood fence.

      • Ha ha. Well, it will indirectly solve our immigration problems as we gradually become a “shithole” country.

  2. Bernie Sanders‏Verified account

    The Trump budget is morally bankrupt and bad economic policy. It pays for his tax breaks for the rich and large corporations by slashing Medicaid by $1.3 trillion, cutting Medicare by $554 billion and slicing $10 billion from the Social Security Disability Insurance Program.

    10:24 AM – 12 Feb 2018

  3. The 22 agencies and programs Trump’s budget would eliminate

    1. The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education, which donates agricultural commodities and financial assistance to carry out school feeding programs in foreign countries.

    2. The Rural Business and Cooperative Service, which provides loans, grants and payments intended to increase opportunities in rural communities.

    3. The Economic Development Administration, which provides federal grants to communities in support of locally-developed economic plans.

    4. The Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which subsidizes advisory and consulting services for small and medium-size manufacturers.

    5. 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which helps communities establish or expand centers to provide before- and after-school programs and summer school programs.

    6. Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, an Education Department program that provides grants to support college preparation for low-income students.

    7. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which researches ways to enhance the effectiveness of health services.

    8. The Advanced Research Projects Agency, which provides support for Energy Department projects.

    9. The National Wildlife Refuge Fund, which compensates communities for lost tax revenue when the federal government acquires their land.

    10. The Global Climate Change Initiative, a proposal that reflects Trump’s decision last year to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

    11. The NASA Office of Education, which provides grants to colleges and universities, museums and science centers. The funding would be redirected within NASA.

    12. The Chemical Safety Board, which is tasked with investigating accidents at chemical facilities.

    13. The Corporation for National and Community Service, which funds service opportunities, promotes volunteering and helps nonprofit organizations find volunteers.

    14. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds public television and radio stations including Public Broadcasting Service and NPR.

    15. The Institute of Museum and Library Services, which funds museums and libraries nationwide with grants.

    16. The Legal Services Corporation, a nonprofit that provides civil legal assistance for low-income individuals.

    17. The National Endowment for the Arts, which funds American artists and projects with grants.

    18. The National Endowment for the Humanities, which provides grants to American humanities scholars.

    19. The Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, which funds community development projects nationwide.

    20. The Denali Commission, the Delta Regional Authority and the Northern Border Regional Commission, which fund infrastructure and economic projects in specified areas.

    21. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency, which provides U.S. goods and services for foreign projects.

    22. The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a think tank focused on international affairs and foreign policy.

    • Bernie Sanders‏Verified account

      As a candidate, Donald Trump said he understood the pain that working families were feeling.

      Well, you’re not responding to that pain, Mr. President, when you kick 500,000 families out of their homes by gutting affordable housing programs.

      11h11 hours ago

      You don’t help working families by throwing more than 100,000 kids off of Head Start.

      11h11 hours ago

      You don’t help working people when your budget would eliminate financial aid to hundreds of thousands of low-income college students.

      11h11 hours ago

      You’re not a “different” kind of Republican by proposing a budget that would eliminate heating assistance to 6 million families in this country by abolishing the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

  4. Trump’s 2019 budget: what he cuts, how much he cuts, and why it matters

    The budget proposes massive, historic cuts to everything from the EPA to Medicare.

    By Dylan Matthews Feb 12, 2018, 4:10pm EST

    The big proposed policy changes include:

    A 42.3 percent cut to all “non-defense discretionary” spending, from the currently planned level of $756 billion in 2028 to $436 billion. This category includes funding for government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department, certain safety net programs like Head Start, law enforcement spending at the FBI and Department of Justice, and scientific research through the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation.

    A 33.7 percent cut to the EPA, a 29.5 percent cut to the National Science Foundation, a 22.2 percent cut to the Army Corps of Engineers (a major infrastructure program), a 21.4 percent cut to the Labor Department, and a 26.9 percent cut to the State Department, among many other discretionary spending cuts.

    A $777 billion boost to defense spending over 10 years, paid for partially by reducing “overseas contingency operations” spending (also known as the war budget). By 2028, total defense spending will be lower, but over the next few years it will be significantly higher (7.9 percent higher in 2020, for instance).

    A 7.1 percent cut to Medicare by 2028, due to reforms meant to cut payments to providers and reduce wasteful treatment without limiting access to health care. The Affordable Care Act in 2010 included many similar provisions with related goals.

    A 22.5 percent cut to Medicaid and Obamacare subsidies by 2028, through repealing and replacing Obamacare.

    A 27.4 percent cut to SNAP (food stamps) and a 20.1 percent cut to Section 8 housing assistance by 2028.

    $550 billion in new tax cuts achieved by making the individual and estate tax provisions in last year’s tax bill permanent.

    $199 billion over 10 years for a new infrastructure program meant to generate $1 trillion through private partnership spending; this is offset by a 28.6 percent cut to transportation spending from 2017 to 2023, cuts which over the same 10-year period total $178 billion.

  5. Trump’s budget cuts Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, breaking core campaign promise

    This would be over a trillion dollars in cuts to some of the nation’s most vulnerable.

    FEB 12, 2018, 4:27 PM

    When he began his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to “save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts.”

    This is a promise, however, President Trump would like to break. Trump’s 2018 budget proposal would cut all three programs, which help the most vulnerable in American society, by billions of dollars.

    The White House’s position is largely in line with the congressional GOP, which has also tried to pass a budget that would cut $1 trillion from Medicare and almost half a trillion from Medicaid.

    Cutting Medicare by $266 billion

    The Trump budget document, titled “An American Budget: Major Savings and Reforms,” proposed cutting a net $266 billion under the category, “Medicare: Eliminate wasteful federal spending.”

    Cutting Medicaid by $1.1 trillion
    The Trump budget proposes cutting Medicaid, under the simple guise of “reforms,” by $1.1 trillion over 10 years. The goal is to encourage states to transition away from the Medicaid expansion that Obamacare allowed, in part by imposing a “Medicaid per capita cap and block grant with the Consumer Price Index.”

    Cutting Social Security by $72 billion

    The full budget document proposal lists “Reform disability programs” in line for a $72 billion decrease over the 10-year budget window. This includes explicit cuts to Supplemental Security Income programs and Social Security Disability Insurance programs, both managed by the Social Security Administration.

    SSDI recipients are people who have become disabled and who have paid taxes into the Social Security Trust Fund, while SSI is needs-based — both programs have a lengthy waiting period before anyone receives benefits.

    The cuts target retroactive SSDI benefits, multi-recipient SSI families, overlapping unemployment and disability payments, and other administration programs.

  6. Trump administration wants to sell National and Dulles airports, other assets across U.S.

    By Michael Laris February 13 at 6:05 AM

    The Trump administration is pushing federal officials to sell off, privatize or otherwise dispose of a broad array of government assets, from Reagan National Airport and the George Washington Memorial Parkway along the Potomac River to properties held by federal agencies across the country.

    The push to sell off federal assets offers a window into the philosophical core of the Trump administration and its approach to infrastructure.

    How far it will go remains unclear. A separate, high-profile Trump effort to move the nation’s air traffic control system out of government hands was blocked in Congress last year, although the administration proposed it again Monday.

    The George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, both run by the National Park Service, are listed as “examples of assets for potential divestiture.”

    The Washington Aqueduct, which supplies drinking water in the District and in Northern Virginia, is on the list.

    Power transmission assets from the Tennessee Valley Authority; the Southwestern Power Administration, which sells power in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas; the Western Area Power Administration; and the Bonneville Power Administration covering the Pacific Northwest, were also cited for potential targets for a sale.

    “The Federal Government owns and operates certain infrastructure that would be more appropriately owned by State, local, or private entities,” the Trump plan says. It calls for giving federal agencies “authority to divest of Federal assets where the agencies can demonstrate an increase in value from the sale would optimize the taxpayer value.”

    Some state officials said they were uncertain how their residents would benefit from such a proposal. Federal assets come with crucial federal dollars that could not easily be replaced, they said.

  7. Infrastructure privatization…

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Brightline is a diesel–electric higher-speed rail system in Florida, United States. It is being developed by All Aboard Florida, a wholly owned subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries (FECI).[3] Currently service is only from Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach. The first phase is planned to connect Miami to West Palm Beach through express intercity service, with a stop at Fort Lauderdale. The complete project is intended to connect Miami and South Florida to Orlando, which requires a new line westward from the coast.

    It partially opened for passenger service between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach on January 13, 2018, as the only privately owned and operated passenger railroad in the United States.[4]

    Brightline is the first time a privately owned company in the U.S. has developed and operated an express passenger rail system since 1983, when the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad discontinued the Rio Grande Zephyr.[5] The service will use the existing Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) corridor between Miami and Cocoa, while also building a new 40-mile (64 km) stretch of tracks along the State Road 528 corridor between Cocoa and the Orlando International Airport. Brightline has announced its intentions to expand to other cities once the initial phase is complete.

    • After 4 deaths on tracks, Brightline vows to ramp up safety efforts in South Florida

      Lisa Broadt, Jan. 19, 2018 | Updated 8:14 p.m. ET Jan. 19, 2018

      BOCA RATON, Fla. — Brightline says it has built the safest railroad possible, but in the wake of two fatalities in less than a week and mounting political pressure, it will “amplify” its educational safety campaign, the railroad’s president said Friday.

      Brightline trains also struck and killed two people during test runs, which began last year. Those deaths were ruled suicides.

      Brightline’s defense of its safety systems — and promise to increase awareness — comes amid mounting political pressure for an investigation into the passenger railroad.

      Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on Friday called on the U.S. Department of Transportation to confirm that Brightline has proper infrastructure in place.

      “In just its first week of operation, public safety issues have arisen that must be addressed,” Rubio said in a letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. “It is critical that the Department of Transportation assess safety measures with Brightline, while coordinating with local officials and members of the community to prevent future tragedies from occurring.”

      Rubio’s letter echoed many of the concerns raised by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who on Thursday urged Chao to investigate the railroad “to determine whether additional actions need to be taken to improve grade-crossing safety.”

    • And how did Florida’s high speed rail project end up being privatized? You might recall…

      Florida High Speed Corridor
      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      The Florida High Speed Corridor is a proposed high-speed rail project in the U.S. state of Florida. Initial service would have run between the cities of Tampa and Orlando, with plans to then extend service to South Florida, terminating in Miami. Trains with a top speed of 168 mph (270 km/h) to 186 mph (300 km/h) would run on dedicated rail lines alongside the state’s existing highway network.

      Construction of the line was slated to begin in 2011, with the initial Tampa-Orlando phase completed by 2014.[3] On February 16, 2011, Florida Governor Rick Scott formally announced that he would be rejecting federal funds to construct the high-speed railway, thereby killing the Florida High Speed Rail project. Governor Scott’s reasoning behind cancelling the project was that it would be “far too costly to taxpayers” and that “the risk far outweigh[ed] the benefits”.[4]

      In the wake of the project’s cancellation, a private sector express passenger service running across much of the proposed route has been proposed by All Aboard Florida, a subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries. This project, Brightline, is due to begin operations on January 13, 2018.

    • From 2011…

      Florida’s Rick Scott Sends High-Speed Rail Packing
      By Adam Sorensen
      Feb. 16, 2011

      By Michael Grunwald, TIME Senior Correspondent

      It’s one thing to look a gift horse in the mouth. It’s quite another thing to slaughter a gift horse and send its disemboweled corpse back to Washington.

      Florida Governor Rick Scott just killed the Obama administration’s marquee high-speed rail project, giving up a whopping $2.4 billion in federal funds for a Tampa-Orlando bullet train. This was the nation’s most shovel-ready high-speed project, and the state wasn’t required to spend a dime to build it; running through the heart of the politically sensitive I-4 corridor, it had bipartisan support in South Florida, where it was seen as a precursor to a long-awaited Orlando-Miami line.

      But Scott ran as a tea-party candidate, and he’s sticking to his tea-party convictions. He’s also delivering a brutal setback to one of Obama’s signature initiatives, halting high-speed rail’s momentum just days after the president proposed to spend an additional $53 billion over the next six years.

      “Put simply, the proposed high-speed rail line is far too uncertain and offers far too little long-term benefit for me to consider moving forward,” Scott wrote to Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood. In prepared remarks, he added: “The answer is to reduce government spending, cut government’s leash on our state’s job creators and then hold government accountable for the investments it makes.”

    • Interesting isn’t it?

      The Florida high speed rail project was a great project that had been planned for years by people who actually understood Florida’s tourism industry. It was shovel ready and federally funded.

      What happened? Why, we elected a black president.

      So, Florida elected a Tea Party governor who spewed Tea Party nonsense and killed the project.

      That’s how it ended up being “privatized”.

      This is how things get screwed up.

  8. For Sure Not Tom

    We should have done infrastructure under Obama, he asked for an infrastructure bill in every other sentence.

    We’ve had historically low interest rates, the window on the best time to borrow for big projects is closing.

    But the GOP refused to do what’s right for America while the Black Guy was in Their White House.

    And we do know how Trump will pay for most these projects. Private money, meaning not only are they eliminating employee protections in favor of your boss, and locking you into your job with employer provided healthcare, but you’ll have to “privilege” of paying a toll to drive to work, too.

    • Exactly right. The GOP is only concerned on how they can make every issue pay off for their major donors, to the exclusion of all other considerations.

      GOP malfeasance on infrastructure is not only damaging to the country but down right criminal.