Nevada Senator and Majority Leader Harry Reid is pushing the maglev from LA to Vegas plan, proposing a $45 million appropriation to conduct additional studies and planning for the project. Reid was down on the Desert Xpress plan and believes maglev is the solution to Southern Nevada's traffic woes:
“If it’s going to be really done in a big way, a Las Vegas way, the magnetic levitation would be the way to do it,” Reid said. “We could bring someone from L.A. to Las Vegas, and vice-versa, in less than an hour,” he said. “If we can get this done, it will be the showboat of the world.”
Reid scoffed at DeMint’s advocacy of a competing, private company’s plans for a regular train between Las Vegas and the Antelope Valley, in the desert some 85 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles. Reid questioned whether tourists would drive through the traffic of Los Angeles to Victorville to take a train the last 200 miles.
Unfortunately even $45 million is raising right-wing hackles - apparently it's perfectly legitimate to spend limitless amounts of money on an endless war, but god forbid we attempt to address our infrastructure needs. The current argument in the Senate is that the maglev money is "pork":
As the bill came to the Senate this week, Republican anti-earmark crusader Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina cried foul. DeMint said that the train was a speculative venture. “If we were asking members of the Senate to invest their own personal money in this project… none would reach for their wallet.”
President Bush signaled he is not pleased in what he sees as extra spending in the bill.
What we're seeing is an attack on efforts to do something about our transportation, energy, and environmental crisis in the name of fiscal conservatism. HSR opponents realize they won't win by attacking the system's merits, so they trot out "pork" and "subsidy" in hopes they can scare voters and Senators into opposing HSR on those grounds. They would prefer we did nothing and saved a few bucks today instead of spending some money now to save us from greater costs and problems in the future.
The irony is that much of the transportation system we use on a daily basis is the product of earmarks and subsidies. And the desire to hold down government spending will accomplish little other than the worsening of the transportation/energy/environmental crisis. By not spending money now, we will face a far higher cost down the line of dealing with peak oil, global warming, and collapsed infrastructure. It is an inherently short-term view that puts immediate savings over long-term investment - sacrifice the future for the sake of the present. Is $45 million really too much for the US Senate to handle? We spend that much in one second in Iraq. Surely it can be spent on America's own economic future.