A necessary investment
To the editor: Nearly five years ago, President Obama proposed a six-year, $53 billion investment into developing a system of high-speed passenger rails throughout 10 regions across the nation. According to the President, the rail would reduce travel time, congestion and air emissions while increasing productivity, mobility and job creation.
Studies from The Environmental Law and Policy Center show high-speed rail to be three times as energy efficient as cars, and six times more than planes. The ELCP states the high-speed rail plan would provide $1.3 billion in highway congestion relief, and $700 million in airport congestion relief.
A single track can carry as many people as a modern 10-lane highway at a fraction of the cost. Train stations would bring jobs and business back into the cities, ergo reversing urban sprawl and reducing the need for investment in new highways. Obama’s plan would significantly reduce the ongoing problem with intercity automobile congestion, overall automobile emissions, and the dependence on foreign oil.
Unfortunately the President’s plan has not gone smoothly. Congress has become a road block, stating the plan would involve “overspending in the transportation department.” They are unwilling to cooperate with the President and refuse to understand that his plan is not a cost, but an investment.
The United States has fallen significantly behind in transportation technologies. The President states “What we need then, is a smart transportation system equal to the needs of the 21st century.” Congress should learn the value of high-speed rail from the European and Japanese models, and know how critically U.S. competitiveness is at risk because of lack of investment.
Congress simply cannot use “Overspending in the Department of Transportation” as an excuse. The Department of Transportation and Obama have worked closely in this plan and devised a goal of connecting 80 percent of the nation over the course of 25 years. Pete Sklannik, former vice president of ASCE’s Transportation and Development Institute, said, “The government is really going to have to treat this as they treated the interstate or space program and understand that this is an investment into our future.” This is true for not only the future of our transportation, but for the economy as well.
A false impression
To the editor: A letter in last week’s Press says the President, in his State of the Union address, stated 9 million Americans have signed up for health insurance or Medicaid. The impression given is that these 9 million were uninsured and now have coverage because of Obamacare. This is false. Six million of the number is comprised of Medicaid enrollment since October. About half of that enrollment is from states that did not expand coverage under Obamacare, so the Medicaid program was unchanged. The other 3 million are from states that expanded coverage. Of that 3 million, compared to application flow from prior months, volume was up 10 percent over where it stood prior to Medicaid expansion. If we attribute all 10 percent to Obamacare, then the law added 300,000 enrollees.
The other 3 million that the President claims are those who used the federal exchange. A Wall Street Journal investigation cites a study that only 11 percent (330,000) of enrollees were people who previously had no coverage. The vast majority were those involuntarily dropped from their existing plans because of Obamacare.
The letter writer credits the President with leading us out of recession and notes Congressman Bob Latta voted against extending unemployment benefits beyond 73 weeks. That’s 511 days. If the President is doing such a good job leading the recovery, why should benefits be extended? Why do a record number of people receive food stamps? Why did the President’s job creation number ignore the 4 million jobs lost under his presidency? Why have millions stopped looking for work, dropping labor force participation to a 30-year low? No need to reply. Let’s blame Bush. It’s only been five years.
As for Latta “voting against” women’s rights, why do female White House staffers make 88 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts?
Editor’s note: The White House salary figure is based on the 2013 Annual Report to Congress on White House staff and doesn’t reflect salary reductions taken due to furloughs and commissioned officer salary reductions.