Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Great Train Robbery: High-speed rail is like Solyndra on steroids.

American Spectator ^ | May 2013 | John Fund

NOTHING FITS the Obama administration’s economic project better than high-speed rail. It’s based on visions of a utopian future, employs gobs of union labor in its construction, can be used to reward political allies and donors, and makes use of analysts eager to churn out dubious studies justifying it on economic grounds. Call it Solyndra on steroids.
The poster child for high-speed rail is California’s proposed 500-mile bullet train from Anaheim to San Francisco. Since it would begin at Disneyland and end at cultural la-la land, critics can’t resist snarking that the train would be on a fast track from “Fantasy to Delusion.”
Even in California, several staunch supporters of high-speed rail are having second thoughts. In order to avoid environmental opposition, the high-speed rail authority has abandoned plans to lay the entire route with new track. Instead, in the Bay Area, the new trains would share tracks with local commuter lines. This so-called “blended system” jeopardizes the legal commitment made to California voters in the 2008 bond measure they approved: that a trip between Los Angeles and San Francisco would take no more than 2 hours and 40 minutes. In addition, money given to local commuter systems by the high-speed rail authority violates pledges that no bond money would be diverted to such purposes.
Quentin Kopp, a former San Francisco state senator and judge who served on the rail authority, has turned against the current plan. “They have just mangled this project,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “They distorted it. We don’t get a high-speed rail system. It is the great train robbery.” He is joined in his skepticism by Jim Mills, a former state senate leader who once ran the rail authority, and Lynn Schenk, a former San Diego congresswoman who currently sits on the board...
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Unions, the reliable Democratic supporters, split from president on ObamaCare

fox news ^ | 5/25/2013 | fox news

Labor unions that have solidly backed President Obama are splitting with him over ObamaCare -- with one calling for the “repeal or complete reform” of the president’s signature health-care law.
Union leaders argue insurance costs for millions of workers will increase under the president’s health-care plan so they might have to drop their existing plan, despite Obama promising the opposite.
Their primary concern is the multi-employer or so-called Taft-Hartley plans that cover unionized workers in retail, construction, transportation and other industries that frequently use seasonal and temporary employment.
The union leaders say the roughly 20 million people covered by the plans will likely have higher premiums because the Affordable Care Act does not include tax subsidies for them.
However, workers seeking coverage in the upcoming, state-based marketplaces for insurance, known as exchanges, can qualify for subsidies.
Union leaders are now hearkening back to what Obama repeatedly said starting in 2009: "If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan."
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