Friday, February 11, 2011

High-Speed Railing

Our president would like to see high-speed rail move forward in this country. Not only would it provide countless construction jobs in all parts of the country for several years, and many that would continue for as long as the tracks remain, it would decrease our energy use and greenhouse gas production. (Here's what we're missing.) Republicans consider that "insanity."

What would they do instead?

More cuts in spending on the most needy: hungry kids, sick moms. Law enforcement. Research. Education. Amtrak, of course (it's communism.) And how much does their we're-in-it-separately vision cut the deficit? Barely at all.

As things now stand, the budget deficit will be $1.500 trillion for this fiscal year. If the GOP has their way, it will be $1.477 trillion. That's a cut of merely 1.5% . Despite everything the GOP is going after, our budget deficit will be 98.5% of what it would have been otherwise -- virtually unchanged. In other words, the only thing they didn't slash was the budget deficit.
Why? Well, in part it's smoke and mirrors:

The proposed cuts are not always as big as they seem, because they are reductions from President Obama's never-enacted budget proposal for this year.

So, having campaigned on jobs jobs jobs, Congressional Rs have yet to propose a single bill that addresses that. Instead, it's showy cuts that hurt the vulnerable while in actuality being the anti-Suttons: going where the money ain't. And, really, this stuff is just the afterthought anyway: their relentless focus is on abortion. They're so concerned for life that they would allow hospitals to let pregnant women die. You know, out of conscience.

How can you even argue with people who think like that?

Who knows? Maybe the teabaggers were in on the scam. Maybe the Koch brothers paid for their rallies on the condition that baggers play along: make it seem to be about jobs while the real agenda was the Rovian one: hooking the "values" voters and deceiving all the rest.

Some "values." Cutting loose the most vulnerable, the least among us, in order never to raise taxes. On the Koch brothers. And, while we're at it, letting them die.

These are the same folks that call us a "Christian nation."


Sili said...

Well, Christ never rode a train.

Pieter B said...

Odd, isn't it, that the folks who speak of this being a "Christian Nation™" are way more into the teachings of Yaweh than Jesus?

The anti-Amtrak folks decry its federal subsidies but never talk about the hidden subsidy the airlines get. Business travelers typically pay full fare, often a premium for "business class," and the price of those tickets is a tax write-off.

Blame Obama First said...

Rail is of course a great liberal idea. It takes longer and costs more. It will be more prone to delays. The jobs won't be something new being created, just the government spending more borrowed money. Plane flight from LA to SF: $60, takes less than an hour. Projected bullet train (whoops--have to rename that, now won't we?) 3 hours and $150.

Keep it up. It will be 1850 before you know it.

Sid Schwab said...

Good points, BOF. No greater liberals were there than the moguls of rail...

I think your points are valid concerns, but I think they miss some points, as well. For one thing, I don't see high speed rail as competing so much with air travel, as with automobiles. Not everyone will get on at one end and off at the other; there will be commuters between cities on the way. And since trains tend to go to downtown areas, the times you compare must also include traveling between airports and downtowns. Around here that adds over an hour each way to a flight.

But the more important issue, to me, is the fact that to carry the number of people and freight in planes that can be carried in trains, you'll use tons more fuel and pollute far more than a train. I realize that's not an issue for RWS, but for those with feet on our earth, it is and ought to be.

I assume your were as concerned about the borrowed money that occurred under Bush as you are now, especially since it was five times more, with no attempt to address it at all. We'll agree on that, if that's where you were at the time.

Blame Obama First said...

Remember, though--high speed rail is only high speed if it doesn't stop too many times. I've not heard of cargo traveling on high speed, but I suppose it could happen. Cargo has a long load time, though--see above. Freight is not often carried in planes (at least the kind you assume might travel via train).

Nice of you to assume that you know what I'm (or anyone else) is thinking on fuel usage.

Debt--I was appalled at the spending of Bush. But I'd rather have him back than Pres. Drunken Sailor--

"Under President Obama, the 2009 budget deficit is set to reach a staggering $1.8 trillion. It took President George W. Bush seven years to run up $1.8 trillion in debt."

Read more:

The fact is, the airports are already there and don't require acquiring billions of dollars worth of right of way--especially with no guarantee of real success. The advantage of cars is that you have your car when you arrive. The train is at the same disadvantage there as the plane.

Sid Schwab said...

This leads to the usual conversation about debt: I'll say the expected, and so will you. Bush inherited a surplus and turned it into massive deficit with no reason. He added several trillion to the national debt, by lowering taxes too much, refusing to ask the nation to sacrifice for his wars, adding medicare entitlement with no attempt to pay for it. No excuses.

Obama, as you might recall, inherited a deficit of about 1.3 trillion and an economy on the brink of depression. Virtually every economist agreed that since the government was the only source, it had to deficit-spend to stave off the worst.

All but the most partisan economists agree it worked; might have done even more had the stimulus included more spending and less tax cuts... As you've heard, as you know...

Unlike Bush's, Obama's change to medicare is paid for and will lower the deficit over time. Unlike Bush, his plan includes cutting what some would agree is wasteful spending in medicare, just as a good conservative would want. Instead, like you who seems unable to credit anything good to Obama, the Rs demagogued it as killing grandma.

Talk about hypocrisy.

The spending Obama has undertaken was necessitated by Bush and the whole R congress' folly. At the same time he addressed the long-term need to bring the budget back into balance.

Too much, too little? Arguable. Necessary to spend to turn the economy around. Not arguable.

But we'll go around on that until we're dead. You won't accept the need to stimulate the economy at the time it was done; you evidently believe that the auto rescue was a bad idea, too. I think if they'd failed, we'd be in a decade of depression... We'll never know, will we? The fact is it worked, and the government will be out of the auto business before long. Not a bad result.

As rail, we'll never agree on that, either. If we have a future, it'll require that we've figured out a transportation grid that doesn't depend so heavily on fossil fuels. We may have to give up the SUV mentality, for the sake of our survival. It would almost be as if we were patriots that loved our country enough to make certain sacrifices to allow it to continue to exist... Weird, huh?

Sid Schwab said...

P.S.: The projected deficit would be several hundred billion less, had the Rs not insisted and Obama and the Ds not caved, on continuing the destructive Bush tax cuts. As you know, I'm sure.

P.P.S.: Monday's post, should you be interested (and receptive) will shed some light of reason on the deficit/spending debate. Water. Duck's back.

Blame Obama First said...

Wow--you get mean pretty fast. I will ask how you will power the train without fossil fuels. Democrats seem against nuclear, wind power (if it spoils a rich guy's view), etc. If you'll give up your SUV, I'll consider buying an even smaller, older car. Come to think of it, your stereotypes are broad and boring. Really--are you interested in others' ideas?

Sid Schwab said...

Hmm, I didn't see the mean; maybe it's me. I thought I addressed your points at length. Didn't agree, which some might consider mean; but I gave them a lot of pixels, I thought. I believe, if you look at a couple of your initial posts here, the word "mean" might well come to mind. Not that I'm into keeping score. But it set a certain tone, and identified yourself in a certain way of your choosing. If you're interested in respectful disagreement, you're singing my song.

I agree with you about Ds and nuclear power, and wind farms. I'm for them. As it happens, my state has both. I thought Teddy K did himself unproud in his fight against the wind farm. Obama, as you know, supports nuclear power, to the dismay of those to his left (which include at least half the party, center-left that he is and always was.)

Whereas I assume there will be plenty of biofuels in the future (they're here, and better ones are around the corner), my point is that as long as we have to use fossil fuels, we need to do so as efficiently as possible: better to use them on trains, which move their loads at extremely high efficiency compared to cars, trucks, and planes, than on the most wasteful forms of transport.

Passenger cars should, and might, eventually, be all electric, with the power coming from sun, wind, nuke, and hydro. Those forms that don't lend themselves to pure electric, like trains, big trucks (for now), and planes should get the oil-based stuff. It'll last a lot longer, while we figure out how to replace it.

Sid Schwab said...

P.S, again: regarding clean biofuels, there's an excellent program that was on PBS. You can watch it here, at least until the teabaggers defund and destroy it.

Blame Obama First said...

We have a lot of biofuels, but we're not using them, and can't use them because of the dems. I'd love a truce--can we use our own fuels, stop importing them, and develop the new stuff? I was against nuclear mainly because it was so expensive, with safety issues and all. Now that's not the case--it would be cheaper than Saudi oil. Yet we're not allowed to drill, get shale oil, get clean coal, nothing. What is the dem plan for energy, besides making it very expensive.

Dems on Republicans--health care=get sick and die.

Dems on energy=be cold and eat raw food and walk everywhere?

Blame Obama First said...

Here's a little more info on the debt--Bush vs. Obama. I dislike the fact that both spent too much. Why would you defend the guy who is spending more, faster?

2 yrs Obama = 3 trillion.

8 yrs Bush = 5 trillion.

Your choice.

Sid Schwab said...

It's a simple argument which I've made before but which is evidently too subtle: there was no reason and no excuse for Bush's deficits. Obama's are unpleasant but unavoidable to undo the damage done by Bush. It's a straightforward issue: one screwed up the economy for no good reason, the other is left to clean it up, and can't do so without spending more money. Bush bought a Cadillac, didn't pay for it, and drove it into a tree. Obama came by and is spending money to fix it because it's the only car we have.

Who's fault is it? The guy who drove it into the tree or the guy taking responsibility to get it on the road again?
It's a very simple formulation.

The only argument you can make is that Obama should have let the economy totally tank. Some believe that. I'd love to hear your argument for that position. But if you agree there was economic disaster and more on the way, then how would you have dealt with the economy without spending money?

The criticism many raise is that not enough money was spent, and not in the right areas, and although I'm no economist, I think they're probably right.

But your position seems to be that there's no difference between the reckless spending that was Bush's and the targeted spending by Obama to put the economy in shape. Which, by the way, seems to be happening, albeit slowly.

Had Bush been responsible, none of the stimulus spending would have been necessary. You prefer to look at it simply as how much deficit each produced. Sorry, but it makes no sense.

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