One of the much-critiqued goals of the since-disappeared FAQ Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sent to major news outlets and posted on her "Green New Deal" information page was the creation of so many high-speed trains across the country that "air travel stops becoming necessary" (don't spend too much time parsing the grammar of that line). Right on cue, newly elected California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced in his State of the State address this week that he was ... canceling most of the high-speed rail project that has already taken over a decade and is now projected to cost taxpayers a staggering $77 billion because, well, it's just not realistic.
So now President Trump wants federal taxpayers' money back.
"California has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project after having spent and wasted many billions of dollars," Trump tweeted Thursday morning. "They owe the Federal Government three and a half billion dollars. We want that money back now. Whole project is a 'green' disaster!"
Newsom set himself up to be called out by the president. In his State of the State Tuesday, the liberal governor specifically mentioned trying to figure out a way not to pay federal taxpayers back.
"Let’s be real," Newsom said in his State of the State address. "The current project, as planned, would cost too much and respectfully take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency. Right now, there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A. I wish there were."
Having admitted that the Democrat-led California government could not be relied on to handle complex building projects and failed on the key issues of oversight and transparency, Newsom refused to entirely let go of the high-speed rail dream — in part because he didn't want to give that $3.5 billion back to Trump.
"Abandoning high-speed rail entirely means we will have wasted billions and billions of dollars with nothing but broken promises, partially filled commitments and lawsuits to show for it," said the Democratic governor. "And by the way, I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump."
As The Daily Wire noted Tuesday, the plan, as of now, is to complete only the Central Valley segment of the San Francisco-to-Los Angeles train. Newsom's admission that the project, which is now 11 years in the making, is not realistic fiscally comes after a series of delays and significant increases in estimated costs. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
California voters approved a $10 billion bond in 2008 largely for the construction of bullet train between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The state finally broke ground in 2015 on a 119-mile segment between Madera and Bakersfield, but the project has lost popularity and become a growing political target as it blows through deadlines and budgets. A revised business plan adopted last year pushed back the completion of the project by four more years and estimated a final cost of $77 billion.
The issue of high-speed rails became a national conversation last week when Ocasio-Cortez unveiled the Green New Deal and her since-deleted explainer and FAQ, which promised among other things to “[t]otally overhaul transportation by massively expanding electric vehicle manufacturing, build charging stations everywhere, build out high-speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary, create affordable public transit available to all, with goal to replace every combustion-engine vehicle."