Patterico's Pontifications

12/29/2023

The Biden Administration Ruins My New Year’s Weekend

Filed under: General — JVW @ 12:12 pm



[guest post by JVW]

It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t exit 2023 bitching about one of my hobby-horses. From NRO:

Under the cover of night (i.e., the dark corridors of federal bureaucracies), the Biden administration handed California $6 billion for two high-speed-rail projects. The Golden State’s high-speed-rail hubris has been a big, black, cash sinkhole since the Obama administration.

Earlier this month, the office of California governor Gavin Newsom gleefully announced that California High-Speed Rail Authority “will receive nearly $3.1 billion for construction in the Central Valley, supporting the overall end goal of connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles,” while the rail project, Brightline, “will receive $3 billion to connect Los Angeles to Las Vegas with 80% of the project’s construction in California benefiting the state’s economy and labor market.”

Governor Newsom declared, “California is delivering on the first 220-mph, electric high-speed rail project in the nation. This show of support from the Biden-Harris Administration is a vote of confidence in today’s vision and comes at a critical turning point, providing the project new momentum.” The $3.1 billion grant from President Biden’s historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is the single largest grant received by California’s High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA).

It’s such beautiful weaselly language that the governor’s office uses: “supporting the overall end goal of connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles.” I’ve said this countless times: there will never in my lifetime, or likely anybody else’s lifetime, be a high-speed rail between San Francisco and Los Angeles. As we have discussed year after year, the California High-Speed Rail Authority has a close to zero chance of ever acquiring the land rights to build that line, let alone figuring out a compromise with environmentalists to tunnel through the Diablo Mountain Range or have a bullet train hurtling up the densely-packed San Francisco Peninsula.

So we are where we have always been with the initial project: a desperate scramble to finish up the Bakersfield to Merced line and then call it a day, lest the Republicans come back into power in Washington DC and start demanding accountability for (and a potential repayment of) the over $10 billion of federal funds which have already been wasted by this ridiculous white elephant. And now of course they are dangling out that perennially-promised Los Angeles to Las Vegas line which will almost certainly end up being scaled back to a Victorville to Primm line, and will end up costing an order of magnitude more than the $3 billion gifted by the Biden Administration by the time all of the pigs leave the trough. If this line were financially feasible, the multi-billion dollar gaming industry would almost certainly be ponying up money to ensure that it is built. The fact that they haven’t done so after all of these years speaks volumes as to what the sharpies think about its potential.

The HSRA is set to release their annual report sometime towards the end of next month, so I’ll provide a fuller update on this epic cathedral of failure.

Happy New Year.

– JVW

24 Responses to “The Biden Administration Ruins My New Year’s Weekend”

  1. I take no joy in chronicling the failure of this stupid, stupid idea.

    JVW (1ad43e)

  2. The object with capital projects seems to be to spend as much money as possible (what’s the incentive – that I don’t know – is someone making decisions getting some kind of commission?

    Capital projects are so set up so that it doesn’t make sense to save money because the money saved cannot be used for operations, (and maybe neither for other capital projects?)

    There must be some kind of an incentive to hire and pay consultants, and for the consultants to recommend and cause the spending of as much money as possible. Which, by the way, means getting nothing done because getting something done means the end of the project.

    The hard work is justifying a project – why go through all that all over again for another project?

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  3. Sometimes when a politician is in charge there may be some kickback in the form of political contributions. This can be done without the politician knowing just so long as he appoints and rewards both the fundraiser and the person recommended to him to dispense largesse.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  4. Sometimes when a politician is in charge there may be some kickback in the form of political contributions.

    Well sure. In this case the high-speed rail money creates a bunch of bureaucratic jobs staffed with people who will reliably vote and donate Democrat. They in turn hire companies to build the rail lines, who employ unionized workers. The company CEOs become addicted to public money as do their workers, so both of them become reliable voter and donors for Democrats. Perhaps there is some politician somewhere who actually stuffs his pockets with funding from HSRA, but I think in general it’s just “honest graft,” using taxpayer dollars to ensure reliable Democrat votes.

    JVW (1ad43e)

  5. The train will never, no matter how far it is built, make enough revenue to pay the interest on the debt crated. By at least an order of magnitude.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  6. Nikki Haley should promise to kill that train line the day she takes office. It would get her a lot of votes in California. She might also declare that the waivers given to CA to evade federal regulation on cars and fuel will also end, bringing California gas prices down by a dollar a gallon.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  7. JVW

    Go to this link and look at the change orders paid out for time impacts

    https://hsr.ca.gov/about/transparency-accountability/change-orders/

    steveg (8dd226)

  8. Nikki Haley should promise to kill that train line the day she takes office. It would get her a lot of votes in California.

    I don’t know that she can really “kill” the stupid-ass bullet train, but I think she can order the Secretary of Transportation to demand that California repay their federal funding on account of failure to produce a workable product within a reasonable time. As a taxpayer of the state I would hate it, but as a small-government conservative I would love to see this happen.

    JVW (1ad43e)

  9. Go to this link and look at the change orders paid out for time impacts

    steveg, I am literally (not really, but the kids now use it to mean “figuratively” so I am following suit) vomiting right now. I’ll probably have to work that into my next righteous fulmination against the perfidy of this horrible, horrible waste of taxpayer dollars. Thank you immensely — and at the same time I am furious with you — for having brought this to my attention.

    JVW (1ad43e)

  10. I don’t know that she can really “kill” the stupid-ass bullet train

    “We will reduce your overall federal transportation funding by $3 for every further dollar you spend on your stupid-ass train”

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  11. “We will reduce your overall federal transportation funding by $3 for every further dollar you spend on your stupid-ass train.”

    Now that would be awesome. But didn’t the Supreme Court kind of put the kibosh on that sort of thing when they prevented the Obama Administration from cutting Medicare funding from any state which didn’t adopt Obamacare?

    JVW (1ad43e)

  12. I think you mean Medicaid, not Medicare. But it’s not the same thing. There is no statutory discretion in Medicaid funding as receiving the “insurance” is a entitlement. But transportation projects? Mostly political largess, either DoT approval or earmarks. Perhaps it would require some legislation to deal with earmarks, but there is no entitlement issue.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  13. ……….The Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (ICA) allows the President to impound funds when he transmits a “special message” in accordance with the ICA. Upon sending the message, amounts proposed for rescission (that is, for permanent cancellation) may be impounded for a period of 45 days of continuous congressional session. ……..
    ……….
    The plain language of the ICA permits only the temporary withholding of budget authority and provides that unless Congress rescinds the amounts at issue, they must be made available for obligation. …………

    Source

    I doubt Haley would be able to gain much traction against Trump (currently +55 over Haley in California) by coming out against the train to nowhere. It’s not a salient issue like immigration, the cost of housing, etc.

    Rip Murdock (3a0431)

  14. Link to Trump’s California’s polling.

    Rip Murdock (3a0431)

  15. Rip,

    Unlike you, I do not foresee any future for the world after Trump is nominated. It’s a catastrophe with the governance of the country randomly assigned to thieves and fools. I plan for sanity to prevail. You plan for whatever the polls tell you to plan for. I hope you like it if it’s true.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  16. Rip,

    Unlike you, I do not foresee any future for the world after Trump is nominated. It’s a catastrophe with the governance of the country randomly assigned to thieves and fools. I plan for sanity to prevail. You plan for whatever the polls tell you to plan for. I hope you like it if it’s true.

    Kevin M (ed969f) — 12/29/2023 @ 9:33 pm

    It’s the Republican Party that supports Trump, whether or not I post about his polling. I’m sure the world will survive a Trump nomination, I’m not sure it will survive a Trump election.

    If you think I’m planning my life around the polls, you’re wrong. What are you planning if you’re wrong?

    I pray you are right about sanity prevailing, but right now it’s a thin reed of hope. As long as Trump’s opponents accommodate him, it makes “sanity prevailing” less likely.

    Rip Murdock (3a0431)

  17. Kevin M (ed969f) — 12/29/2023 @ 9:33 pm

    You confuse my posting of Republican presidential primary polling with support for Trump. I would also post any poll that shows voter support for someone else, but there are no such polls.

    I post because the polls are newsworthy, and to disabuse anyone of the notion that Republican voters want an alternative to Trump. They clearly don’t now; we’ll have to wait and see what the future holds.

    Rip Murdock (3a0431)

  18. You confuse my posting of Republican presidential primary polling with support for Trump. I would also post any poll that shows voter support for someone else, but there are no such polls.

    You confuse static conditions for the future.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  19. Go buy yourself some imagination. You call it “wishcasting”, other people call it “hope.” Your incessant train of DOOM DOOM DOOM is tiresome in the extreme. A bot could do it.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  20. Rip. I am about to just put you on mute, not because you are obviously wrong,. but because you are uninteresting.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  21. It’s like, in one of those movies where everyone is racing to defuse the bomb, you’re the guy repeating the countdown.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  22. You confuse static conditions for the future.

    Kevin M (ed969f) — 12/29/2023 @ 10:41 pm

    No I don’t. I would be more than happy to see Trump’s polling decline, but right now there is no evidence of that happening. What is not static is that his national polling has increased from a 44 share to a 62 share among Republicans since January 2023.

    Go buy yourself some imagination. You call it “wishcasting”, other people call it “hope.” Your incessant train of DOOM DOOM DOOM is tiresome in the extreme. A bot could do it.

    Kevin M (ed969f) — 12/29/2023 @ 10:42 pm

    I would have hope if there was some evidence to back it up. But I don’t see any reason to hope for something that unlikely to happen.

    Rip. I am about to just put you on mute, not because you are obviously wrong,. but because you are uninteresting.

    Kevin M (ed969f) — 12/29/2023 @ 10:43 pm

    What am I “obviously wrong” about? That Trump is the leading candidate for the Republican nomination? That Haley and DeSantis spend more time accommodating him more than attacking him?

    That’s too bad you want to block me, because I’ve enjoyed our exchanges; but it won’t stop me from commenting on your posts, however.

    Rip Murdock (3a0431)

  23. Oh fuck, guys, did we really move the ongoing arguments about Trump and the GOP primary to this thread? Just give it a rest, OK? Or at least take it back to the Weekend Open Thread.

    Please and thank you.

    JVW (1ad43e)

  24. Hey I am stuck with a senile old corrupt fool leading my party into defeat in 2024. Gavin newsom keeps trump on ballot in cali so republicans don’t take him off the ballot when he gets the guts to run. Remember biden only won electorial collage in 2020 by 43,000 votes in 3 states az, 10,000 ga. 13,000 and wi. 20,000. Muslims hate him vote for jill stein. Young voters hate him vote for jill stein I hate him and don’t half to write her in as green party made ballot for 2024. If trump wins AOC walks into presidency in 2028 veep at worst. Besides a president trump will make people forget why they hate corporate establishment democrats. Be interesting who no labels pick hopefully taylor swift and michael jordan. That would give biden a stroke maybe tulsi gabbard. Who do you think they should run. I know nk would like me to run so she could be my veep.

    asset (864729)


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