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America Is Taking a High-Speed Train to Bankruptcy

Posted on Tuesday, January 2, 2024
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by Outside Contributor
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63 Comments
bankruptcy of government spending

On December 8, the federal government made two seemingly disconnected but inexorably linked announcements that do not bode well for America’s future.

First, the Department of Transportation hyped an $8.2 billion grant for passenger rail projects.

Second, the Congressional Budget Office revealed that the federal government racked up a $383 billion deficit in just the first two months of FY 2024, with interest payments increasing by a shocking 65 percent year-over-year.

Washington’s continued refusal to rein in wasteful and unnecessary deficit spending has led to an unfocused, unaccountable, and increasingly unaffordable federal government that threatens to derail the economy.

To see why, start with the rail money—the bulk of which will go to California. 

The state’s High-Speed Rail Authority will receive $3.1 billion to continue its singularly awful 520-mile boondoggle from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Following its initial approval in a 2008 referendum, the project has racked up an impressive list of failures over the course of 15 years, including an increase in the estimated cost from $33 billion to over $128 billion; a delay in the estimated completion date from 2020 to at least 2033; and a 2022 New York Times expose revealing many details of California’s staggering incompetence and overregulation. 

While the project has been beset with then-unforeseen problems, it was primarily undermined by fundamental flaws that should have doomed it from the beginning.

“Should have” because unfortunately both California and the federal government refuse to let this boondoggle die. Even with Washington’s latest $3.1 billion injection, the project needs an additional $7 billion just to complete its initial 117-mile segment from Merced to Bakersfield.

Each additional dollar spent makes the project increasingly resistant to criticism or elimination, as the sunk-cost fallacy ensures that politicians will feel obligated to see it through to the bitter end.

The Biden administration is also gambling $3 billion on a high-speed rail line connecting Los Angeles and Las Vegas, spearheaded by the Brightline corporation. 

Brightline, known for its privately funded service in Florida, recently opened its high-speed line from Miami to Orlando. The project’s relatively smooth construction and more reasonable cost put it in strong contrast with the ongoing debacle in California, as Reason‘s Natalie Dowzicky explained in September.

However, success in Florida does not guarantee a similar outcome for the L.A.-to-Vegas venture. 

Mountainous western terrain alone will add complexity and costs not seen in the Sunshine State. Add in mountainous bureaucratic and legal burdens from California’s Environmental Quality Act, along with assorted cost-increasing mandates that come from accepting federal funding, and Brightline’s plans could go up in smoke. 

The Biden administration’s total $8.2 billion rail “investment” flows from the 2021 infrastructure package, which was riddled with budget gimmicks and slush funds from the start and looks even worse with the administration’s implementation.

The infrastructure bill was part of an unprecedented $7.5 trillion spending spree from 2020 to 2022. This deficit-fueled bender was a key factor behind the ongoing surge of inflation and, in turn, can be blamed for the recent interest rate spike.

Every dollar wasted on political porkfraud, and poorly considered infrastructure makes the country’s fiscal situation even worse. 

America’s $33.8 trillion gross national debt is the result of Washington’s failure to properly budget and prioritize federal activity over the course of decades, although half of the total has been added since October 2013. 

The Congressional Budget Office report helps to underline the near-term severity of the problem. Due to the interest rate jump, net federal interest payments rose 65 percent in October and November compared to the year before. Interest payments could eclipse defense spending as early as this year and help drive deficits to unsustainable levels.

Coupled with over $75 trillion in unfunded liabilities for Social Security and Medicare, the federal government’s finances pose a tremendous threat to the country’s economic prospects.

One small step in the right direction would be for Washington to stop bilking taxpayers for the sake of rail projects that might never be completed, let alone come close to being worth the cost.

This piece originally appeared in Reason.com

Reprinted with permission from The Heritage Foundation by David Ditch.

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James Null
James Null
3 months ago

What about all the aliens coming across the border? Our social security and Medicare , set up for our AMERICAN CITIZENS cannot take the responsibility for this type of CRAP FROM THIS WHITEHOUSE

Fred Noel
Fred Noel
3 months ago

This is the plan by the Socialist Democratic party. I’m afraid it’s too late to stop the speeding train heading at America. Joey’s last three years have been disastrous.

Sally Duncan
Sally Duncan
3 months ago

Makes “the road to nowhere in Alaska” look like child’s play, but what a fit was thrown about that! This in California gets crickets from the media, of course!

anna hubert
anna hubert
3 months ago

I think the train left that station already and is on the way to abyss

MadMax
MadMax
3 months ago

Ok so they get the California rail line up and running first moderate earthquake it’s destroyed or partially destroyed. Boondoggle indeed.

Lloyd Grisham
Lloyd Grisham
3 months ago

Incompetence and corruption and nothing is done to correct it. Most people don’t pay attention or care. We are facing a disaster.

James DeBona
James DeBona
3 months ago

Over 20 million unskilled, uneducated and non-English speaking illegal entries into this country over the past three years and we’re worried about a train in Commifornia?! If that border isn’t SLAMMED shut immediately, and a massive deportation effort instituted, we are going to have much, much bigger problems to worry about very soon! And every single American citizen is going to feel it! The simple fact that the vast majority of these illegal’s weren’t escaping persecution! They literally “country shopped” for the country they believed will provide them with the most handouts. Where do people think all the money is going to come from???

John johnson
John johnson
3 months ago

Any thing that would be built in California will cost 5 times the cost because the democrats need to pay they donors.that why after 15 years not 1 mile of track has been laid.

Ricky Gonzales
Ricky Gonzales
3 months ago

The Voters have spoken! If the liberal left wants to bankrupt this country they can use any excuse at their disposal to do it!

Randall L. Beatty
Randall L. Beatty
3 months ago

It is not the fault of the people of this country it is all the fault of Washington and the White House they cannot run this country look at the border that is out of control but our great so called president does nothing just spend spend money they all need to go we need different people in government all they can do is hate Trump and waste there time on that they are all a joke just lies.

Elaine
Elaine
3 months ago

America is not on the high speed train by choice. The current administration and the executive branch is the engineer with the overspending for their own pet projects. Congress is sitting on its backsides and not doing their due diligence to stop the runaway train via “executive orders”. Congress (Republicans AND Democrats) are the ones who designate the budget and items in the budget to responsibly spend the taxpayers dollars. They are collectively responsible and it is not due to this party or that party, their sworn duty is for the “USA NATION!’ They need to get off their duffs, use their brains and common sense to get this train back on track!!!

g. wilhelm
g. wilhelm
3 months ago

Aside from running for Congress, what else can a person do?

Art Warmack
Art Warmack
3 months ago

Taking a high speed train? This nation already took that train and in bankruptcy we have arrived.
There is no paying back of 135 TRILLION dollars. We can’t make the 13+Trillion dollar annual payment on just the interest and our great leaders keep spending like drunks in a casino.
I hope our debtors merely break our legs for failing to pay and not provide a stronger punishment but we sure deserve the latter.

Rich
Rich
3 months ago

Biden and the communist/democrats have done their job. Just overwhelm the system and it will implode.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
3 months ago

The only time I take public transportation is when my car breaks down and I take it downtown to the garage. Everytime I do, about 5 people are on a full-size bus too. Why fund buses + all the support buildings, admin, maintenance, etc. ? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just buy these 5 ppl a cheap, basic car instead? Plenty of EVs to go around….

marty
marty
3 months ago

If they keep-up the steady flow of illegals coming North,the West side of Cali will drop off at the San Andreas Fault Line just from the weight alone, High Speed Rail and all !! Do Dems float or melt in saltwater ? Doesn’t Matter

Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
3 months ago

Let the good times roll. Like Kenny Roghers sings, On A Train Bound for Nowhere. Kyle L.

johnh
johnh
3 months ago

Airline was fined +$142 Bilion last month for late planes, computer glitch, weather delays & not talking to passengers enough. Where does this money go? And IMO, the US govt. should not be bashing our US airlines , but passengers should decide what airline they like to fly & if I fly during severe weather & busy holiday season, then it is my fault if I get stuck somewhere.

A Voter
A Voter
3 months ago

That train has already arrived at the station both financially and morally. Hope you all enjoyed the ride.

Mike L
Mike L
3 months ago

Interesting most of the money for high speed trains is going California’s way. Can’t even get a slow train in Columbus, largest US city without any Amtrak service.

Ben Ray
Ben Ray
1 month ago

You have used the term: $8.2 billion rail “investment”. This says there is a return that will turn this into a profitable venture for the tax payers? Fat chance. When does that ever happen?

Susan
Susan
2 months ago

I feel sick in the gut when I dwell on US budget. At home, I have to live on a budget. At times it calls for hard decisions. At home, interest is earned on money that is saved. Politically, it is not easy to live on a budget because constituents want $$ and will vote out those who don’t bring home the bacon. As a result, we have run-away spending, and instead of earning interest on savings, because of fiscal responsibility our national debt, or interest on that debt, is more than the entire budget of years gone by. This is a SAD reflection on greediness and pure fiscal irresponsibility. I’d like to see a law MANDATING a balanced budget. Will it be easy? NO! But the rewards will be far greater down the road. (Imagine earning interest rather than paying interest) If it’s not done, America will not be in a strong position internationally… or at home. Novel idea??… less government; less regulation; less spending on things that are not “critical national” concerns; more individual responsibility. (There’s NO “FREE LUNCH!” Somebody somewhere has to pay for it. People tend to be more responsible, resourceful and ready to roll up their sleeves with their own money than with someone else’s.)

Sydney
Sydney
2 months ago

Destroying our economy is one piece of the Leftist, hate- America, Globalist totalitarian plan to undo our nation, change it into something completely different, and exercise total power and control over us. I never could have imagined what they are accomplishing. What I find dismaying is that so many supposedly educated Americans are so blinded to what is happening. I cannot have any conversation with those people because they do not allow such conversation.

tom
tom
3 months ago

you want a good economy? you gotta throw money around.

caseyp
caseyp
3 months ago

That train arrived at the depot a long time ago. Everybody living today, and possibly those not yet born, will never see our national debt paid off.

johnh
johnh
3 months ago

Debt reached $34 Trillion last week. Debt increased every year thru Obama & Trump terms & half of current debt is since 2013. Both parties are to blame & need to quit spending that we do not have. I believe the last balanced budget was during Bill Clinton years, so take a look at what was different that year.

Art Warmack
Art Warmack
3 months ago

Why don’t we gather up all the invading illegal aliens and convert them to animal feed? For once in their dreadful lives they will actually be worth something.
I know I would buy a few bags of Julio.

Glen
Glen
3 months ago

And WHAT exactly have the Republicans done about it! NOTHING!!!

Florida Gator
Florida Gator
3 months ago

Biden is just the latest democrat to continue the financial disaster, but Trump does not deserve a pass either. He wasted trillions including the CARES Act and PPP loans which were disastrous for the economy.

Ron DeSantis is a conservative who has done outstanding in Florida and would make an ideal president. Instead of embracing his candidacy the GOP has stabbed him in the back in favor of Trump. When leftists took over blocks of downtown Seattle Trump tweeted yet took no action. Meanwhile DeSantis took action against Disney and their leftist agenda.

Yet the GOP has not only lined up for Trump, but millions in the GOP have threatened to stay home if anybody other than Trump wins the primary including DeSantis.

We can all look forward to another 4 years of Biden pushing the economy further down the drain or Trump tweeting how he has grand ideas and getting little done. The GOP is destroying itself to prop up Trump.

Casey C Matt
Casey C Matt
3 months ago

So what if America goes bankrupt? Any country that holds our debt gripe about our inability to pay even just the interest on the jillions of borrowed funds and what will we do? Bomb their nations and slaughter their children. We do it all the time for less.
God bless America

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