Trump’s Petty High-Speed Rail Retribution Unfairly Hurts Californians

In today’s political climate, nothing is free. Laws, bills, and amendments all cost the U.S. government money and time. Recently, the Trump Administration declared its intention to remove governmental funding on the California High-Speed Rail that is currently underway. While many skeptics have come out about the money put into the project, it has continued as a work in progress. That was until California decided to lead other states in an effort to undermine President Trump’s national emergency, “Build-the-Wall” plan. Now suddenly, funding for the speed rail is likely to be taken away and millions of dollars wasted.

The grants that the federal government plans to cancel are just shy of 1 billion dollars. The rail plan, which was voted on in 2008, has already spent about 2.8 billion dollars. The Trump administration has gone as far as wanting California to pay back the money that was already spent. The Federal Railroad Administration is justifying these actions by claiming California has not matched its share of the payments thus far.  Newly-elected California Governor Gavin Newsom said, “This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won’t sit idly by.” Dissent is coming not only from the President, but from within California itself. Assemblymember Vince Fong from Bakersfield said, “The project is fundamentally flawed and needs to be stopped immediately,” while his Democrat counterpart Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula in Fresno said, “High-speed rail has already begun to transform the Valley and has created thousands of jobs in communities that need economic investments the most.”

There are many conflicting opinions on the subject of whether the speed rail should continue. On one hand, 24,000 jobs are being made from the construction, and pollution would be diverted from less car use. On the other hand, the rail comes with an immense cost. Either way, the reason for ending the grants is a stretch at best. With few violations in the contract, this is definitely the Trump administration trying to cherry pick a reason to end funding.

The project itself is fundamentally flawed, but the reason for attempting to end it is ridiculous. Instead of trying to cut off their money, the Trump administration should renegotiate the contract with California to be more cost effective and meet their requirements. However, this isn’t the main issue because if it was, it would have happened earlier. No, the reason this threat is being made is simple political payback. Trump wants to show California he takes away money when states open their mouths to disagree. Not only is this a show of bravado, it’s an embarrassment to U.S. politics. It makes the U.S. seem divided and childish for using their federal/state rights to “tag” one another.

The California High-Speed Rail is the casualty of a measuring contest between California and the federal government. With California attempting to maintain its powerful and independent image and the federal government trying to assert its Machiavellian-type power, the true loser is the American people, being caught in the middle of a governmental civil war.

Frank Peña is a third-year Journalism and Informatics major. He can be reached at fpenaaya@uci.edu.