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Belmont Club

Classical Gas

February 24th, 2012 - 4:19 pm

The rising price of gas is in the news. Naturally the administration cites it as a reason for why the public should support its policies. An exchange between a reporter and Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest makes the connection.

“We’ve never seen $5,” the reporter said. “We’ve seen $4. Now we’re going into the possibility of $5.” … “Well, as I pointed out, in the short term, what the president has pursued was a payroll tax cut that would put $40 in the pocket of every working — of the average American family every two weeks,” Earnest replied.

But the issue remains. It’s even forcing some government officials to consider delaying their gas tax proposals. “Rising gas prices and the need to tackle a tough state budget are creating mounting challenges for Gov. Martin O’Malley’s gas tax proposal”, said the Washington Post. Between the price at the pump and the need to keep government expenditures going, well what’s a politician to do? Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, D-Baltimore said he hadn’t seen the public this exercised since the recent flap about same-sex marriages.

The financial squeeze, according to Delegate Tawanna Gaines, D-Prince George’s, only underscores the need for more transportation projects.

“They understand that it’s needed,” Gaines said, referring to the state’s large backlog in transportation projects. “They get that, but they basically believe that you can’t get blood out of a turnip. It’s going to be a very, very tough sell.”

Like that high speed train project in California, which is expected to come on line in a few decades. “California voters in 2008 authorized the state to borrow $9.95 billion for a high-speed rail network, a fraction of the more than $40 billion the state expected it would need at the time. Since then, the project’s cost estimate has ballooned to $98 billion.” But it’s coming on, just you wait.

California High-Speed Rail Authority schedules show the first phase from San Francisco to Los Angeles opening in 2027, with a link to Anaheim in 2034.

The second phase would connect the network to San Diego County via the Inland Empire sometime after 2034, but there are few details on the timing of the second phase.

Stations would open in Murrieta and Escondido along Interstate 15, with a final station in downtown San Diego.

And in the meantime there’s the forty bucks every two weeks to keep people going. Even though the President claimed that nobody could do anything about gas prices, since those were set by the “markets”, Iran could apparently raise them, as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner explained. He also said that high gas prices were a sure sign that the President’s economic recovery was working. “Economic growth in the United States and other countries is also having an impact on global oil prices, by increasing confidence.” Confidence is business that he and the President may know a lot about.

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