When I want to drop my money in Vegas on useless machines, I prefer to at least have the slight chance of winning some of it back. Thanks to a sleazy back-room deal between Barack Obama and Harry Reid, the city least in need of government bailouts will get a $8 billion pork project in the final version of Porkulus. Now Southern California residents can have another way to lose their money, and we can all pay for the ride:
In late-stage talks, Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pressed for $8 billion to construct high-speed rail lines, quadrupling the amount in the bill that passed the Senate on Tuesday.
Reid’s office issued a statement noting that a proposed Los Angeles-to-Las Vegas rail might get a big chunk of the money.
And what got cut to ensure Reid’s pork bonanza?
To tamp down costs, several tax provisions were dropped or sharply cut back. A provision popular with Republicans and the big business lobby that would have awarded about $54 billion to money-losing businesses over the next two years was instead limited to small businesses, greatly reducing its cost.
A $15,000 tax credit for anybody buying a home over the next year was dropped; instead, first-time homebuyers could claim an $8,000 credit for homes bought by the end of August. Car buyers could deduct the sales tax they paid on a new car but not the interest on their car loans.
I wasn’t a big fan of those provisions anyway, as they essentially subsidized the overextension of debt that helped create this crisis. However, at least they provided something of an economic stimulus. Instead of those provisions, we’re going to spend $12 billion on a train that will replace a one-hour flight or a four-hour drive (which I have done myself on several occasions). It will hurt the coach-bus business that provides charter services for group excursions, which will wind up hurting the economy instead of helping it.
Has Vegas had problems with people getting to its city? Is this really the biggest priority for city infrastructure facing America at the moment? Democrats like Harry Reid continue screeching about how the economic sky is falling, but then suck out enough money to fund a federal agency for a year to build a transportation corridor to a city no one has any trouble reaching.
Viva Por-kulus! Viva Por-kulus! Viva — viva — Por-kulus!
Update: I wrote $12 billion, but it’s actually $8. Kind of like how downtown Vegas hotels discounted room rates to get the gamblers, I suppose.
Also, Michelle asks a good question. Will all of those bailout recipients scolded by Barack Obama for planning Vegas meetings become good citizens again if they ride the Porkulus Rail to Sin City?