Watch: LaHood Smacked Down over Calif. High-Speed Train Funding (and Lack Thereof)

California’s state Republicans failed in efforts to stop the funding for the initial leg of Gov. Jerry Brown’s $68 billion high-speed rail project. Not that they didn’t try, but Brown and legislative leaders sweetened the pot for skeptical Democrats with light rail upgrade funds for Los Angeles and the Bay area.

But because California currently has absolutely no money to pay for the project beyond the first phase, the battle shifts over to Congress and the Republican-dominated House of Representatives. Only $3.3 billion of federal funds have been committed to the project, and clearly, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood wants more. But Congress has blocked any additional federal money from being spent to support California’s high-speed rail.

At a House hearing Thursday, LaHood squared off with California Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Fresno). Of note, after LaHood keeps complaining about the block on federal funding, Denham takes great pains to explain to LaHood how the House has not seen any sign of any private investors interested in the project. And much like a bank providing a loan, he wants a real, workable business plan for the train before the House authorizes more funds:

As we noted earlier this week, the “business plan” formulating to get private investment for the train involves courting pension funds and endowments. That doesn’t appear to be evidence that the business world has much faith in the train’s success.

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  • Death Rock and Skull||

    They could have built a pretty sweet regular rail system for the amount of money the are going to spend on nothing.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Or an ultra-sweet bus system.

  • Redmanfms||

    Or bought 3.6 million people a 2013 Honda Civic LX Sedan.

  • sloopyinca||

    Or bought 1.9 million people a Chevy Cruze and a second Chevy Cruze to use as a parts car when the first one inevitably breaks down within a year.

  • stoneymonster||

    This whole train deal is the finest example of the idiocy of government finance today.
    California has ZERO money, negative money in fact, yet they still are hell bent on
    building a toy that won't bring any benefits. It's maddening. It's like that Louie
    episode where he's trying to buy a multi-million dollar home when he has a net worth
    of $7000.

    Full disclosure: I live in the SF Bay Area.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    "Full disclosure: I live in the SF Bay Area."

    May I pass along my sympathies.

    Of course, I live in Illinois, so what the Hell am I doing throwing out locational sarcasm?!

  • Brutus||

    I'm even more fucked than you are, John. I live in Missouri, but I work and pay taxes in Illinois. I get the full butt-raping without the satisfaction of being able to vote the pricks out.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Ouch.

    Oh, and since when have we in Illinois voted any of the pricks out? We have had Mike Madigan's clammy hand holding us down since 1983, and two straight governors go to the federal pen. And still we end up with giant Donkey majorities in the legislature, Madigan's little girl as AG and a clueless fool as governor.

  • Brutus||

    My favorite was the 67% hike in state income taxes (conveniently masked by the reduction in SS payroll taxes that took effect at the same time) because of such dire fiscal conditions...and a nice simultaneous bump in the state budget at the same time.

    This state is so fucked.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Ready for the clubbing we will get on January 1st? and the "temporary" tax hike made permanent - who could have ever seen that coming?!

  • Randian||

    And Michelle Obama for Senate!

  • Sevo||

    "Full disclosure: I live in the SF Bay Area."

    Me, too, and it's a pretty sure bet that *if* this boondoggle ever gets built, it'll be so slow and so expensive that neither one of us would consider riding it to LA.

  • Tim||

    Homeless people need a place to sit and vomit.

  • Sudden||

    They don't need to bother leaving SF for that.

  • Sudden||

    Would there ever be any circumstance where you'd consider coming down to my sprawling shithole of a metropolis known as Los Angeles anyways?

  • ||

    Union Jobs. That's really all it's about. Who care if it every carry a single passenger.

  • carol||

    There is a private company planning on building high speed rail running from Miami to Orlando. You would think that all those union locals who marched in downtown Tampa in support of high speed rail would be as happy as a bunch of piggies in shit, but NOOOOOO! Apparently high speed is only the best thing since card check if it is financed with public funds.

  • Sevo||

    BigFire| 12.7.12 @ 1:34PM |#
    "Union Jobs. That's really all it's about. Who care if it every carry a single passenger."
    Hiring hall on wheels...

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Unions are "blue collar" types. But rest assured, there are "white collar" interests in this as well. Below is an excerpt from an exhibition called LA Beyond Cars:

    About railLA

    railLA is a joint not-for-profit collaboration between the Los Angeles Chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA/LA) and the American Planning Association (APA-LA) with the specific purpose of increasing public awareness of the benefits inherent in integrating high-speed rail into our cities, most notably, at first, in Los Angeles. Events such as LA Beyond Cars are intended to generate enthusiasm about the California High-Speed Rail Project and encourage a paradigm shift toward the use of transit.

    The exhibition was rather interesting, and very well curated. Also, it was heavily sponsored by Siemens. Everyone can feed at the public trough! Hooray!

    http://railla.org/

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Crap - Siemens is our biggest customer, worldwide. Now I have to hate them, the rent seeking scum.

  • Sevo||

    "As we noted earlier this week, the “business plan” formulating to get private investment for the train involves courting pension funds and endowments."

    Don't most pension funds operate under some pretty specific language about where the money can be invested?

  • Tim||

    Public pension funds will invest in anything. It's a feedback loop of graft:
    Members get defined benefits, pols get slush funds to "invest", taxpayers pick up the tab.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Only $3.3 billion of federal funds have been committed to the project, and clearly, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood wants more. But Congress has blocked any additional federal money from being spent to support California’s high-speed rail.

    FUCK YOU, CUT SPENDING!

  • LTC(ret) John||

    We should have said that in comment one. As in most threads.

  • R C Dean||

    Its a said state of affairs when the number "$3.3 billion" can be preceded by the word "Only".

  • Paul.||

    Eventually, it all adds up to real money...

  • Randian||

    Who cares? Just another couple of billion dollars tossed into the starving maw and the flaming gyre.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Sarlaccgeld?

  • Randian||

    That's what we should start calling it.

  • wareagle||

    the same LaHood whose last media foray involved his son and other folks involved in these shady make-the-world-adopt-democracy groups was stuck in Egypt. Guess he and the rest got out.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Yes, they "posted bond" before leaving. Some might simply cut to the chase and say they bribed their way out, but not me, nosiree!

  • gaijin||

    No offense Scott Shackford, but you should change your twitter handle ;)

  • Scott S.||

    I don't get it. Why?

  • gaijin||

    Immature iditos like me read it as:

    @ss-hackford

  • Scott S.||

    Hmm. Does that make me a Nazi stormtrooper, a ship, a hack, or all of the above?

  • Tonio||

    Sigh. Ass-hackford. Always read for the lulz, Scott.

  • Brutus||

    And you know that once they do get a private investor, the guarantees he gets are going to make all previous efforts at corporate welfare look Scrooge-like by comparison.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    So LaHood's business plan is to get a different Congress that won't block funding? Might be a while.

  • Brutus||

    He needs to go all Hedley Lamarr on them and send in Mongo terrorize the Congressfolk into getting out of the way of the choo-choo.

  • Tonio||

    I'd like to thank Brutus Johnson for saying what needed to be said.

  • Leonard Rockstein||

    Tonio Johnson is right about Brutus Johnson being right!

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Taggart: I got it! I got it!
    Hedley Lamarr: You do?
    Taggart: We'll work up a Number 6 on 'em.
    Hedley Lamarr: [frowns] "Number 6"? I'm afraid I'm not familiar with that one.
    Taggart: Well, that's where we go a-ridin' into town, a-whompin' and a-whumpin' every livin' thing that moves within an inch of its life. Except the women folks, of course.
    Hedley Lamarr: You spare the women?
    Taggart: Naw, we rape the shit out of them at the Number Six Dance later on.
    Hedley Lamarr: Marvelous!

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