Vice President Joe Biden announced this week that the White House would seek $53 billion over the next six years to develop a network of high-speed trains across America. Obama has long championed bullet trains, but continues to face tough opposition from Republicans, who quickly pounced on Biden's announcement. House Transportation Committee Chairman John L. Mica said that, given past government failures, "This is like giving Bernie Madoff another chance at handling your investment portfolio." Does the new round of high-speed rail funding stand a chance? (Watch Biden's comments)
No way: Republicans have been talking about cutting high-speed rail funding for months — and now Democrats "think they’re ready to hop on board a $50 billion socialist train?" says Randy LoBasso at Philadelphia Weekly. Don't bet on it. It's unlikely that Obama "has a secret plan to twist Republican arms and get them to blink on this issue," and advocates who think 60 Senate votes are possible should "keep dreaming."
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This plan can succeed — one day: Franklin Roosevelt's proposed national highway system was criticized and backburnered when he first introduced it, and look at it now, says Eric Jaffe at The Infrastructurist. It took 16 years for Roosevelt's plan to become an "imminent reality" under President Eisenhower. Given that precedent, it "might be more appropriate to look at Biden’s announcement with a longer view." It may be tough sledding for the president now, but "the similarities in [these] two narrative arcs still offer plenty of reason to keep the plan alive."
"Obama's $53 billion national high-speed rail plan: Some historical perspective"
Think smaller: "Deficit-minded Republicans" aren't going to "open up the purse strings for rail, high-speed or otherwise," says Bryan Walsh at Time. That's why the president should start smaller, and "first address rail on the Northeast Corridor, where Acela has proven popular," despite many snafus. But there's a problem with even this modest plan: "Political realities often mean that infrastructure dollars end up split, instead of focused where they could do the most good."
"Vice President Joe Biden announces a $53 billion plan to fund high-speed rail"