Central Valley Republicans Flip-Flop on HSR Funds
Back in 2007, Republican Congressmen Devin Nunes and Kevin McCarthy spoke out in favor of the California high speed rail project. That was back when they still represented the Central Valley. Since then, McCarthy and Nunes represent other people now – specifically the oil companies and right-wing funders like the Koch Brothers. And that’s why, as the Fresno Bee reports, they are opposing California’s efforts to win Florida’s high speed rail money:
The partisan divide reopened when Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, approached Reps. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, Jeff Denham, R-Atwater, and Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, on the House floor Tuesday. He wanted to know whether they would join in a letter asking for an additional share of the federal high-speed rail money.
“I went to them all,” Cardoza said Thursday. “They declined.” The political disunity, Cardoza added, could undermine California’s bid for more money.
Instead Nunes and freshman Republican Jeff Denham – who voted for AB 3034 in the summer of 2008, placing the high speed rail bond on the ballot that November – have flip-flopped along with McCarthy. Rather than stand up for jobs, clean air, and economic growth for the Valley, they are reading from the same script that was given to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Ohio Governor John Kasich, and Florida Governor Rick Scott:
On Thursday, Nunes called the state’s high-speed rail program “a boondoggle. The more time we spend on this fairy tale, the longer people will be out of work.” Nunes said that while high-speed rail makes sense “conceptually,” he would rather see limited transportation dollars spent on upgrading Highway 99.
Denham considers it “irresponsible to continue to throw money at a project that does not have a concrete, disciplined plan that explains how the system will run and be paid for,” Denham’s spokeswoman Allie Brandenburger said in an e-mail.
Nunes, Denham, and McCarthy are all aware that if they are to have a political future in today’s Republican Party, they have to appease people like the Koch Brothers, even if it comes at the expense of their actual constituents.
As the California High Speed Rail Authority pursues value engineering on the project, the already minimal risk of a “boondoggle” is receding even further. The real boondoggle would be spending that money on Highway 99 instead, pouring more money into the obsolete 20th century transportation systems that the rest of the world is moving beyond.