Conservatives home in on ‘ObamaRail’

March 28, 2011

By Keith Laing -The Hill

“ObamaRail” is fast becoming the new “ObamaCare” for many Republicans.

Conservative activists are deriding the high-speed rail proposals set out by President Obama in his State of the Union address and 2012 budget as wasteful spending that imposes new mandates on cash-strapped state governments.

“Look, you look at the studies of these things, when they get built, [they] cost way more than they think,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said in a Fox News interview shortly after he rejected $2.4 billion for a railway connecting Tampa and Orlando.

The Republican governor also said states get stuck with the costs of operating the new railways once they are built. “Who is going to take responsibility for that,” he asks.

The fight over high-speed rail loudly echoes the battle over healthcare, with Republican governors in Wisconsin and Ohio also making big shows of rejecting federal money.

The vehemence of Republican critics has surprised even some Republicans, who say transportation issues used to find more bipartisan support.

“This is the most significant headwind we’ve had in 50 years,” said Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union.

Cardenas, a former chairman of the Florida Republican Party, was criticized after being elected ACU chairman for supporting the Florida rail project so many staunch conservatives there hated.

He said advocates for rail transportation spending have been caught off guard by the backlash.

“It’s a headwind that caught (rail) smack in the face. It’s being looked at from a standpoint of ‘hey, if we don’t need to build it today, let’s not do it,’” said Cardenas, who has registered to lobby on behalf of high-speed rail, putting him at odds with the Florida Republican Party he led under former Gov. Jeb Bush.

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2 Comments - what are your thoughts?

  • Thomas S says:

    The 2.4 Billion in rail funds rejected by FL Gov. Scott are now (according to US Transportation’s Lahood) being reallocated to other States by bid.
    This is absurd.
    We could save immediately 2.4 Billion on this years budget.

  • Phil says:

    High speed rail is another wasteful government program that will cost more than its worth and will not produce jobs or economic growth. The states will ultimately get stuck with the bill that they cannot afford. Government needs to just get out of the economy, out of ours lives and pockets. Must it be said again & again, government is not the answer, government is the problem.

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