The NY Times continues in its unexpected transition from Obama lapdog to watchdog, discovering, as if for the first time, waste and inefficiency in Big Government projects:
Delays Persist for U.S. High-Speed Rail
By RON NIXON AUG. 6, 2014
The Obama administration has spent nearly $11 billion since 2009 to develop faster passenger trains, but the projects have gone mostly nowhere and the United States still lags far behind Europe and China, where trains on average top 220 m.p.h. Although Republican opposition and community protests have slowed the projects here, transportation policy experts and members of both parties also blame missteps by the Obama administration — which in July asked Congress for nearly $10 billion more for high-speed rail — for the failures.
I blame Bush, but:
Instead of putting the $11 billion directly into high-speed rail projects, they say, the administration made the mistake of parceling out the money to upgrade existing Amtrak service, which will allow trains to go no faster than 110 m.p.h. None of the money originally went to service in the Northeast corridor, the most likely place for high-speed rail. Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin, all led by Republican governors, in the meantime canceled high-speed rail projects and returned federal funds after deeming the projects too expensive and unnecessary.
“The Obama administration’s management of previously appropriated high-speed rail funding has been as clumsy as its superintending of the Affordable Care Act’s rollout,” said Frank N. Wilner, a former chief of staff at the Surface Transportation Board, a bipartisan body with oversight of the nation’s railroads.
The Times even dwells on Obama's "If you like your train service we can improve it" message:
“Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail,” Mr. Obama said in his 2011 State of the Union address. “This could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying — without the pat-down.”
But as Mr. Obama’s second term nears an end, some experts say the president’s words were a fantasy.
“The idea that we would have a high-speed system that 80 percent of Americans could access in that short period of time was unadulterated hype, and it didn’t take an expert to see though it,” said Kenneth Orski, the editor and publisher of an influential transportation newsletter who served in the Nixon and Ford administrations. “And scattering money all around the country rather than focusing it on areas ripe for high-speed rail, didn’t help.”
"Fantasy"? More of a shared delusion - the wheels of Big Government do not grind as smoothly as First Engineer Barack imagined, but how could he (or any other Democrat) have seen that coming?