Saturday, December 11, 2010

Walker's Pyrrhic Victory

Well, Scott Walker did keep one of his campaign promises, after a fashion. Then again, he clearly broke another one.

As everyone who isn't a hermit already knows, Walker's idiocy has caused the federal government to pull most of the $810 million that was supposed to go to high speed rail and will be giving it to other states you don't have turnip-headed weasels for Goobernator-elects. Walker, being as dishonest and hypocritical as ever, called it a victory for the tax payers.

In a word: Bullshit!

The feds have stated that they might let the state keep up to $2 million of the dollars, which is a pittance compared to what is needed:
Wisconsin also was allowed to retain up to $2 million to fund unspecified upgrades on Amtrak's existing Milwaukee-to-Chicago Hiawatha line. But that won't cover all of the $19.4 million cost of renovating the train shed at Milwaukee's downtown Amtrak-Greyhound station or the $52 million cost of building a new maintenance base for two newly purchased trains, two projects that would have been paid for out of the $810 million in federal funds.

Outgoing Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle had suggested Walker's stand also would jeopardize a separate $12 million grant for upgrades to a Hiawatha crossing and the Mitchell International Airport station platform, but the federal announcement made no mention of withdrawing that money.

Walker isn't even saving us any money, so I don't know how he can call it a victory. He didn't stop the train, he only managed to get the feds to reroute it. That means that Wisconsin tax payers still shelled out $140 million dollars for a train but have nothing to show for it.

Walker claims that that part that he was concerned about was the operating costs of the train. Again, that is complete nonsense:
Taxpayers' yearly support for the rail line was estimated at $4.7 million. According to the Census Bureau, in 2008, there were 2,236,518 households in Wisconsin. This equals roughly $2.10 per year, per household. As Bill Sell posted, 2 cents of every $10 of our transportation budget would go toward the rail line. Presently $9.20 of every $10 goes toward roads. Transportation expenditures breakdown thusly: 92% on roads; 4.4% on mass transit; 3.4% for railroads, harbors, and airports; and the proposed line would have gotten .2%.

$810 million in infrastructure, jobs, and development for $2.10 per year, per household, or for .2% of the transportation budget - sounds like quite a deal. Too expensive? Nonsense! This is a sad day for Wisconsin.
Wow, that $2.10 won't even buy a full gallon of gas. Thanks, Scooter!

The millions of dollars that Walker just squandered isn't the only cost to Wisconsin. It's also going to cost us jobs (and the tax revenue from said jobs) in the thousands, if not more. One such area of jobs is Talgo, which already announced that they would be pulling out of Wisconsin in 2012 and headed for a more business-friendly climate. But they aren't leaving without making it known what a true loss this is for our once great state:
"In our view, this is even more tragic for the state of Wisconsin than it is for Talgo," Friend said in a written statement. "This is the rejection of creation of direct and indirect jobs, of added tourism, of the increase in state income taxes with permanent employment and . . .  lost opportunities (from) the establishment and growth of the vendor supply chain, among many other benefits."
Cory Liebmann has compiled a list of some of the companies that just had their futures put on hold and their employees continued employment jeopardized by Walker's "job-creating" agenda. It should be noted that these are only the companies directly impacted by Walker's rejection of the train. It does not include the other companies and businesses, like the grocers, gas stations and other stores where the employees would have spent the money they now are no longer going to get.

And to round it off, the City of Milwaukee is looking at its options of suing the state in order to recoup the money spent on fixing up the Talgo plant. Walker should pay for it, but out of his campaign purse, since it was his political aspirations that caused this debacle in the first place.

But it's not all bad news. California is ecstatic, if somewhat bemused, with our Goobernator-elect's incompetence and idiocy:
Why would they do such a thing? Because it would cost taxpayer money to operate the rail lines after they're built.Scott Walker, Republican governor-elect of Wisconsin, fretted that his state's train would cost $7.5 million a year to operate. As train supporters pointed out to the New York Times, this is sort of like turning down a free car because you don't want to have to pay for gasoline and insurance. Not only did Walker and Ohio Gov.-elect John Kasich, also a Republican, ignore the construction jobs the projects would have created, but they ignored the positive impact on their states' economies, freeways and environment that the trains would have brought to future generations.
In summary, Walker not only didn't save us any money, but cost us a lot more than what would be needed in operating costs for generations to come. Not only did he squander this money, he killed existing and potential jobs and made damn sure that Wisconsin is left behind during the nation's economic resurgence. What Walker did manage to do is make the state into a laughing stock for the rest of the county.

It's not a good sign that we already can't afford Walker's foolishness and it's still three weeks before he even takes office. Now that is some high level incompetence.

If Walker has any more of these "victories," they will be resurrecting the billboards asking the last one out of the state to please turn off the lights.

I have a feeling that January 3, 2012 will be a momentous date in Wisconsin history.


  1. capper must be thinking of the Aztec calendar.

  2. I agree with you 120%, but please refrain from the "scooter" digs. It so sounds like the puny "choo choo" arguments from the other side.

  3. I would like to add the strong probability that the state could have picked a conservative 3 percent of the $810 million injection just from the state income, sales, property, corporate and other tax collection mechanisms buried within the layers of the entire project. A $25 million gift that would have made the train's first five years of operating costs deficit neutral.