For the first time since 1995, the federal government has been shut down. The radical, extremist House Republicans have chosen to take this step in hopes of undermining the Affordable Care Act, even though the collateral damage to the rest of the American economy of a shutdown will be severe.
This is a high speed rail blog, so opinions about Obamacare don’t really matter here. The shutdown won’t affect the California high speed rail project, at least not immediately. But it is a symptom of the problems that face virtually every aspect of American life in that the extremist House Republicans can undermine projects and businesses in pursuit of their ideological goals.
Immediate prospects for additional federal HSR funding have been grim ever since Republicans seized control of the House in the 2010 elections. That’s not out of any inherent problem or weakness of the California HSR project. In fact, it has nothing to do with HSR at all. Everything from NASA’s asteroid monitoring to Head Start child care to the national parks are threatened by Republican extremism. HSR, like those other things, is one of many victims of those anti-government attitudes. No change to the HSR project will ever appease Congressional Republicans and convince them to fund it.
America’s future, from HSR to child care to asteroid monitoring to national parks and more, is increasingly on hold until the political situation in Congress changes for the better. Hopefully that will happen in 2014. If not, California would do well to begin planning how it can fund its priorities without waiting for a Republican Congress to come to its senses.