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California High-Speed Rail Still Flawed at its Core

[Publisher’s Note: As part of an ongoing effort to bring original, thoughtful commentary to you here at the FlashReport, we are pleased to present this column from House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.]

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For years now, Governor Brown and the High-Speed Rail Authority have turned the idea of high-speed rail into a public albatross far beyond what Californians envisioned or voted for.

Flashback to 2008: Californians supported Proposition 1A, which explicitly limited the financial obligation that taxpayers would assume to pay for the high-speed rail project. In return, Californians were promised a truly high-speed rail.

However, as the years went on, the costs continued to rise and many of the promised benefits began to unravel. Consequently, even some of the project’s ardent supporters are now opposed to it. Now Sacramento is forcing the people to write a blank check for a project that has already failed to meet its promised speed and that may never get done.

The project’s business plan is flawed at its core. As the price tag ballooned, private investment was—and still is—nowhere to be found. That should be the first sign that something is wrong. Even in the heartland of technological innovation, private companies are balking at the project. If they don’t think it will succeed, why should we trust the government’s judgment to risk our money alone for this project?

This is exactly what the American people have had enough of.

After the Obama Administration’s unaccountable spending in the early years of his presidency, the American people spoke loudly and ushered in a new Republican Congress to stop the waste. As a result, my colleagues in the House and I decided that no federal money would be spent on this unworkable project.

With no private or federal money, the Governor and legislature are undeterred and want to support this boondoggle by raising the price Californians will pay at the pump under cap and trade and issuing even more debt. But even this still leaves the project grossly underfunded, which means more pain for no gain.

And no matter what, Californians alone are stuck with the bill.

In return for the Governor’s inauspicious project, California will face reduced government services and major disruptions to our communities. The state’s use of eminent domain will force families from their homes and put train tracks through our backyards. Farmland will be cut up, churches will be razed, and businesses will be unsettled all for a staggering price and what some of the brightest minds in engineering call anything but ‘high-speed.’

We can’t afford such a fundamentally flawed plan sold on deception.

Sadly, this week’s groundbreaking was a political maneuver. Supporters of the railroad in Sacramento are too proud to admit that their project is deeply flawed, and they won’t give up on it despite the cost. But these political tricks are exactly what the American people are tired of and what the new Republican Congress is committed to ending.

As Majority Leader of the House, I will make sure that that Congress continues to stop Federal taxpayer dollars from being directed to this project. Now, Governor Brown should listen to the people of California, scrap this high-speed rail plan, and protect California taxpayers.

Kevin McCarthy is the House Majority Leader and represents the 23rd Congressional District.