At a press conference in San Francisco today Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom all spoke out in favor of Proposition 1A. Their presence ought to dissuade some of the Prop 1A critics who claim that federal funding is uncertain - in 2009 these two members of Congress will be among the most powerful politicians in America and will be in a VERY strong position to help fund California High Speed Rail. They emphasized the environmental and the economic benefits of the project, and DiFi had some strong words for the HSR deniers:
One newspaper said now is not the time because we can’t afford it. I would say we can’t afford not to do it.
Which is of course the truth. As Paul Krugman explains in today's column deficit spending by government to prime the economic pump is an absolute necessity for getting the country out of the recession.
It's not just leading national politicians and Nobel laureate economists making this point. Average Californians grasp the necessity of passing Prop 1A as part of an overall economic stimulus program, as shown by this letter in the Modesto Bee:
California has budget problems because our legislators have been unable to control spending growth and have been unwilling to raise taxes. The current budget uses gimmicks and tricks and is unbalanced. Our state government is dysfunctional. Killing beneficial infrastructure projects will not solve California's problems. We need to invest in California. In the long run this will lead to better lives for the state's residents and will result in increased state and local tax revenue. We need to approve the high-speed rail measure, and we need to demand that the Legislature do its job. These are compatible goals.
Thanks John for helping inject some common sense into the debate. Killing Prop 1A will do absolutely NOTHING to help California's economy or budget. Nothing at all. Especially when you consider that the cost of doing nothing is not zero - whether it's the cost to consumers of higher gas prices or the cost to the budget of expanding roads and airports, Prop 1A and HSR is the affordable solution.