Jul 27, 2011

Why Scott Walker and Right-Wingers Sabotage Public Transportation Projects

Well-paying jobs resulting from industrial policy that does not directly reward GOP cronies

By Sarah Jaffe at AlterNet

High-speed rail is one of the rare areas where business, labor, and environmental activists are often in agreement. Republican transportation secretary Ray LaHood is a fan, as are, of course, President Obama and Vice-President Biden.

But Tea Party-supported governors like Scott Walker in Wisconsin, John Kasich in Ohio and Rick Scott in Florida have made headlines by refusing billions in federal stimulus dollars aimed at creating new high-speed train lines between major cities.

The trains would be electric-powered, providing comparable travel times to regional plane flights but cheaper, running on cleaner energy, and without the same security concerns. Real estate developers and other business types saw new rail lines as an opportunity to invest in new places, and the rail projects would create both construction jobs and permanent jobs operating and maintaining the new trains.

So what's the problem? Why do conservatives hate high-speed rail so much? They claim it's all about money, but handing back billions in federal dollars while claiming to be broke doesn't seem to make much fiscal sense. We did a little research, and here's what we found:

1. Big infrastructure projects leave a big legacy--and this one would belong to President Obama.
2. Union jobs
3. Collectivism! Socialism!
4. 'Urban' vs. 'Rural'
5. High-speed rail will change our lifestyles—and we like them!

See discussion at Sarah Jaffe at AlterNet.

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