As posted on National Journal’s Transportation Experts Blog
Politics and demagoguery keep trumping job creation. The latest episode has the newly elected chief executives of Ohio and Wisconsin sending jobs out of their states to score political points while so many of their constituents continue to suffer in a chronic state of joblessness.
With November’s jobless report showing about 1 in 10 Americans still out of work (that number grows significantly when you factor in the under-employed), it is baffling at best that two governors would be willing to shutter job-creating investments in their passenger rail systems. Yes, investments that are already paid for. Yes, investments that would have provided residents of these two states 30,000 good jobs. Bizarre for sure.
If you believe the pundits and politicians, the fall elections were about the faltering economy and the depressed job market. I’m not sure you can add jobs by subtraction. And to no one’s surprise, the $1.195 billion dollars rejected by Ohio and Wisconsin is being distributed to 13 other states that understand you add jobs by addition. How can anyone elected to lead in this tough and painful economic era openly say no to initiatives that put their constituents to work? We wonder if voters in Wisconsin and Ohio are already feeling buyers’ remorse.
Two bills introduced in Congress just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday (H.R. 6403 and H.R. 6408) would make the situation worse by redirecting high speed rail and other stimulus funds back to the U.S. Treasury. Instead of giving the high speed rail grants to other states where they can be put to work, certain Members of Congress want to cancel these high speed rail funds altogether and the jobs they create. This supposed ideological purity is reckless and destructive to the nearly 15 million Americans who remain unemployed.
Thankfully, the DOT redirected the high speed rail grants to states that are serious about creating jobs and embracing progress in our faltering transportation system. This means the people who need to pay their bills and put food on the table will do that work thanks to high speed rail development, but just not in Wisconsin or Ohio.