Friday's HOT MIC
Only 31% of Californians want the high-speed rail boondoggle project between LA and Frisco to continue.
One of the project's challenges revealed by the poll is a deep geographic divide. Bay Area voters, who would get the biggest and earliest benefits of the project, are its strongest supporters. A smaller majority support it in Los Angeles, while most respondents in San Diego and Orange counties are opposed. The Central Valley, which is seeing a construction industry employment boost but also suffering through widespread disruption, has the largest pool of opposition.
About 48% of the poll's 835 respondents said that in general they strongly or somewhat support the project, while 43% oppose it. USC poll director Jill Darling said those are not strong numbers of support or opposition, given the poll's margin of error of 4 percentage points.
But when asked in a second question whether they would stop the project, given that the cost has doubled to $77 billion and the schedule has stretched to 2033, just 31% said they would keep going and 49% said they would halt construction. A sizable 19% did not know what to do about the problems.
Lots of people love the idea of high-speed rail. Who wouldn't? Bright, shiny trains zipping along at 200 mph making a trip between Los Angeles and San Francisco romantic and interesting.
But for $100 billion? No thanks, say most people.
What are the chances California is going to need a federal bailout to finish this white elephant?
Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn surfaced on Twitter briefly today to post and then quickly delete a photo of Huma Abedin, Harvey Weinstein and Hillary Clinton along with the cryptic message, “Dgffcf”:
People are speculating that Dgfffcf is Flynn's version of Covfefe.
Wishful thinking or a bad omen?
The increased cost of fuel is already wiping out a big chunk of the benefit Americans received from the GOP tax cuts. And things could get worse as summer approaches following the administration’s standoff with Iran and a move by oil-producing nations to tighten supplies.
The result: The economic and political benefits Trump and the GOP hoped to reap from cutting tax rates could be swamped by higher pump prices that Americans face every time they hit the road.
“If you look at the benefits of what households are getting from lower rates, roughly one-third of that is wiped out if these higher gas prices are sustained,” said Ellen Zentner, chief U.S. economist at Morgan Stanley. “And when we drive down the street, every block we see glaring signs about how much gas costs that day and it’s all over the media. The tax cuts were a one-off. It’s a one-time level shift in your paycheck that you are not reminded of every day.”
The economic impact of higher gas prices is already stark.
Morgan Stanley estimated that if prices remain at current levels, they would cost U.S. households an additional $38 billion this year. Using Joint Committee on Taxation data, it estimated the tax-cut bill would reduce individual taxes by about $128 billion in 2018. And it gets even worse for Trump.
I was horrible at math in school but isn't that still $90 billion in the pockets of Americans? Sure, $38 billion is a serious hit but how much blame will be placed on the president?
Also, that $38 billion is only a valid number if high prices hold through December 31. Prices are likely to drop after the summer is over, although they will remain high until some slack is created in supplies.
Hint: OPEC doesn't have that kind of clout anymore.
Bottom line: There is absolutely no sign that consumers and businesses are any less confident about the future, which would put a dent in the theory that high gas prices will create a backlash against Trump and the Republicans.
Nice assist from RedState on my Twitter issue:
The vote to decide whether the Irish government will repeal legislation that bans abortions in Ireland is currently too close to call, but I'm not optimistic that the Emerald Isle will retain its deeply Catholic pro-life identity.
The pro-repeal side is thought to have a slight edge over the pro-lifers and, apparently, liberal ex-pats poured in from across the globe to vote "yes" in the referendum. The polls were closing in Ireland as I was writing this.
I don't know who this well-spoken young Irish woman is, but I hope her feelings on the matter reflect those of the silent majority.