Opinion: Editorials

Examiner Editorial: Obama's $107 billion transportation plan: Trains and roads to nowhere

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Opinion,Editorial

If you live in northern Virginia and listen to the radio, then you've probably heard the ad from President Obama's re-election campaign attacking Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for a budget plan that "slashes investments in road and infrastructure projects." It does no such thing.

Ryan's Path to Prosperity budget does return federal spending levels on all transportation projects to pre-recession levels. In 2008, the federal government spent $77 billion on transportation. In what would be Romney's first full fiscal year in office (FY 2014), the Ryan budget calls for $84 billion in transportation spending. That's not a "slash" in spending.

Obama on the other hand, takes the same level of spending that has failed to produce jobs and reduce commute times under his stimulus, and hits the accelerator. In 2000, the last year before President Bush took office, President Clinton spent $46 billion on transportation. By 2016, Obama plans to spend $107 billion a year, an increase of more than 130 percent.

Is your commute 130 percent faster? We didn't think so.

If Obama was actually spending all this money on roads and bridges designed to get you to work and home quicker, then maybe this transportation spending explosion would be worth it. But he's not. In 2009, the highway trust fund spent $52.7 billion, but only 62 percent of that went to general purpose roads and safety programs. The rest was diverted into pet liberal causes like trolleys, bicycles, buses, scenic byways, historic covered bridges and "community preservation."

And those are the dollars that are supposed to be going to highways. The rest of Obama's transportation spending is even more wasteful. His budget calls for billions in subsidies for Amtrak, which can't even manage to run a monopoly food concession without losing $800 million annually.

Then there is the $47 billion that Obama wants to spend on brand new high-speed rail projects across the country. One need only look at how his signature rail project in California is progressing to get a sense of how well this money will be spent.

More than three years after Obama's stimulus funded California's high-speed rail dream, the project's first phase hasn't even broken ground. Even if the first section of track is ever completed, all it would do is it would connect the Central Valley town of Madera (population 60,000) with Charles Manson's prison home in Corcoran (population 24,000).

Even if Obama ends up giving California every cent of the high-speed rail dollars from his stimulus, the project would still be tens of billions short of its original almost $100 billion price tag, and Californians would be left with a scaled down $68 billion plan that doesn't actually connect San Francisco and Los Angeles as originally planned.

Not only would Romney and Ryan stop wasting your transportation dollars on bike paths and high-speed trains to nowhere, but they would also return as many of everyone's tax dollars to the states as possible.

The question for northern Virginians stuck in traffic -- and really for all Americans -- is whom do you trust to spend your transportation dollars more efficiently? Congress and Obama, or Gov. Bob McDonnell and Richmond?

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