Because AmTrak has been such a huge success over the years.
Water flows uphill.
A city turns down $8.5 million in federal grant money.
In what could be a new high water mark of anti-Washington sentiment, the city of Troy, Mich., is rejecting a long-planned transportation center whose construction would have been fully financed with federal stimulus money.
The terminal, which would help Troy become a transportation node on an upgraded Detroit-to-Chicago Amtrak line, was hailed by supporters as a way to create jobs and to spur economic development. But federal money is federal money, so with the urging of the new mayor, who helped found the local Tea Party chapter, the City Council cast a 4-to-3 vote this week against granting a crucial contract, sending the project into limbo.
“There’s nothing free about government money,” Mayor Janice Daniels said in an interview. “It’s never free, and it’s crippling our way of life.”
Other Republican officeholders have said “Thanks, but no thanks” to federal money for high-speed rail: Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin rejected an $810 million federal grant to extend passenger rail from Milwaukee to Madison; Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey killed a project to dig a new commuter rail tunnel under the Hudson River. But those actions have generally involved criticism of the underlying logic of the projects, or projections of enormous costs to be borne down the line by state and local governments.
The Troy transit center’s construction, by comparison, required no local contribution, and its predicted annual maintenance cost of $31,000 was, in the context of the city’s $50 million budget, “de minimis,” said Mark Miller, the assistant city manager.
The federal government’s largess is no reason to build the transit center when the national debt stands at $15 trillion, Mayor Daniels said.
Yet if the money does not go to Troy, it will not be used to pay down the national debt; it will be redirected to other projects around the country.
Taking Tea Party reasoning to the local level has outraged supporters of the transit center, which has been in the works for a decade. Michele Hodges, the president of the Troy Chamber of Commerce, which supports the transit project, said that her organization “will be a pit bull for what’s best for this community.”
David A. Kotwicki, a local lawyer, noted that members of Congress might talk tough on spending, but that they still bring projects home to their districts. The vote against the transit center, he said, looks like “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”
A few things jumped out at us while reading this: a) the general snotty tone with respect to what they perceive as tea party logic rejecting all money merely because it comes from Washington D.C. b) the author never makes the case for the long-term viability of the transportation center... nor does it make the case for the most obvious question: is this transportation center even needed? c) appears to champion taking federal money merely on the grounds that it will just go to another pork barrel project elsewhere and not pay down the national debt if rejected.
The over-arching logic employed by the Times in this article is precisely the logic that has made us the brokest nation on the planet. To the Times, pork is a fungible asset and just the natural order of things so you might as well take advantage of it.
Taking a principled stand against further dependence on the federal government and stemming the tide against the Keynesian make-work philosophy of the statist political class in our counrty is, however, something that is derided in the pages of the New York Times.