The Obama administration and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., are getting ready to bet $4.9 billion in taxpayer money that people in California will be willing to drive to a dying desert community, park their vehicles and then board a train to ride to the Las Vegas Strip.
Under the proposal - expected to be approved later this summer - DesertXpress, a privately held company, would use the $4.9 billion in government loans to build a bullet train at Victorville, Calif., an economically hurting city of approximately 115,000 residents at the edge of the Mojave Desert. The line, approximately 100 miles east of Los Angeles, would carry passengers on a train capable of going 115 mph to the Las Vegas casinos.
Defenders - especially Reid and DesertXpress project consultant Sig Rogich - say the line will create 80,000 jobs and will pay for itself and not need government subsidies to keep running in the future.
This is highly doubtful on both fronts. Other studies say the 80,000 jobs, if accurate, would be mostly temporary. At most, 700 permanent jobs would be created. As for the subsidies issue, Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments, said in a fesibility report about the project, "There is no high-speed rail system in the world that operates without subsidies."
DesertXpress originally said it would build the line without subsidies, but speculation is that private investors wanted nothing to do with the project. So the company then turned to government loans.
Victorville, like many other communities, is struggling, at least in part because of the economy created by this president. Helping it by taking taxpayer money from other communities also struggling is not the best economic boost.
Once again, here is the Obama administration determined to fund a pork project for a supporter, only if this one fails, as is probable, it will make the Solyndra debacle look like a bargain.