U.S. stands by California bullet train project despite criticsWall Street Journal, December 24, 2011:
'We are not going to flinch' on support, an official says at a House committee meeting. The opposition alleges political corruption in the granting of federal funds for the Central Valley segment.
The Obama administration vowed Thursday at a House committee meeting in Washington that it would not back down from its support of California's bullet train project despite attacks from critics who alleged it is tainted by political corruption.
"We are not going to flinch on that support," said Joseph Szabo, chief of the Federal Railroad Administration.
Szabo said that his agency had committed itself to provide $3.3 billion for a construction start next year in the Central Valley and that federal law prohibits any change of mind about where to begin building the first segment of the state's high-speed rail system.
"The worst thing we could do is make obligations to folks and start to renege on our word," Szabo told the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Szabo was grilled repeatedly about why the project was starting in the least populated region the route traverses, an area one East Coast politician asserted had "more cows and crops than people." Szabo said it was the state's application that determined where the money would be spent.
But that characterization of the decision-making process was sharply disputed by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), whose district would be served by the rail line. Nunes led a charge of Republican criticism of the effort and claims that it would create tens of thousands of jobs.
"It is clear that high-speed rail is not about jobs," Nunes said. "It is about corruption, public deception and bureaucratic experimentation."
China to Slash Railway SpendingNow that the Obama Administration finally should be copying China, it's not (except in Detroit). As Walter Russell Mead says:
Chinese authorities are cutting spending on railway construction for 2012, the latest signal the world's No. 2 economy is de-emphasizing one of its most expensive programs after a year of problems highlighted by a deadly high-speed collision.
Under the new plan, spending for 2012 construction will drop 42%, from more than 700 billion yuan ($110 billion) earmarked in 2010--an investment level that initially had been expected to be maintained for a number of years, until the death of 40 people in the July crash prompted a reassessment.
Those of us who remember the short lived but intense Sushi Lobby, the Americans who thought the US needed to imitate the brilliant success of Japanese state capitalism back in those halcyon days of the 1980s when the grounds of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo were estimated to cost more than the entire state of California, will be waiting to hear how the Panda pundits explain the high speed rail meltdown."Tom Friedman, please call your office."
(via reader Warren)