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Editorial: How not to plan for the future

(The following editorial appeared on the New York Times website on April 20, 2011.)

NEW YORK — The agreement between Congress and the White House to virtually eliminate money for high-speed rail is harebrained. France, China, Brazil, even Russia, understand that high-speed rail is central to future development. Not Washington.

The budget package eliminated about $1 billion that President Obama had wanted to add to the current budget, and it rescinded $400 million of $2.4 billion that was already designated for high-speed rail this year.

That money was supposed to go to Florida, but it’s now up for grabs after Gov. Rick Scott mindlessly rejected a plan to build the first high-speed rail corridor between Orlando and Tampa. Despite the vast support of business, Governor Scott claimed it would be too costly for the state government. It turns out that a lot of other governors — including 11 of Mr. Scott’s Republican colleagues — would love that money.

President Obama originally proposed spending more than $50 billion over the next six years to make America’s passenger rails compete with other industrialized nations. He wants 80 percent of the nation to have access to high-speed rail in 25 years. That’s not likely to happen with this Congress. Perhaps Governors Christie and Walker, and other Republicans who have a sudden fervor for high-speed rail, can help make his case.

The full editorial is on the New York Times website.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

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