Fast Tracks, Federal Slaps, Tabor and More

The Coming Battle is, well, Coming….  We are being swamped by questions about our hopeful ballot initiative to defend Colorado from Obama Care.  The short answer is we are going through the very bureaucratic process with the state before we can hit the streets with petitions.  We should be able to get petitions out there in early April, and WE NEED HELP!  If you can volunteer to gather signatures please give us your contact information here. And if you’d like to give some cash for our fight go here.

If you help, we are going to make Colorado a sanctuary state for quality health care.

Fighting Obama Care in the Courts – Must Hear Podcast: Colorado Attorney General John Suthers joins our Research Director Dave Kopel to discuss the lawsuit he and 12 others State Attorneys General have jointly filed, that claims the health care bill recently signed by President Obama is unconstitutional because it violates the 10th Amendment. AG Suthers makes a good point: if Obama Care is allowed to ride, it will be a dangerous precedent – one from which we can never return. As the AG puts it, if the Feds can punish you for NOT engaging in commerce, is there any limit to their power? To get the whole scoop, listen to the podcast on iVoices.org.

Attacking TABOR “for the kids”?: The usual suspects have lined up to float a proposal that would exempt our state legislators from having to ask voters before raising taxes to fund education. Policy Analyst Ben DeGrow explained the problem with the proposal on a recent Colorado Springs TV news story. As a result, our young blogging prodigy Eddie added in his two cents worth, too.

Unintentional Comedy at 70 mph: As Yogi Berra once said, “It’s deja vu all over again.” Remember those FasTracks lies we’ve been told for 30 years? Well, a new report from the Rocky Mountain Rail Authority makes RTD’s distortions look like child’s play. The report claims that “high speed” rail lines between Fort Collins and Pueblo, and Denver International Airport and Eagle County – I-25 and I-70, respectively – would cost over $21 billion AND not need a dime of taxpayer money. I’ll let you finish laughing before I go on….

Further, the study claims, “for every dollar of capital and operating costs, the project creates economic benefits greater than one dollar.” If true, that begs the question: Why on earth would we need government to do it if the project is both economically feasible and profitable? The fact that entrepreneurs are not jumping all over this alleged gold mine is proof enough it’s a money loser. Obviously, I don’t even need to rely on any sort of theoretical argument here. Look at the history! Look at the empirical evidence right in front of our eyes! We’ve got a FasTracks project underfunded, over-budget, and largely unbuilt that is already over 30 years in the making.

For your viewing pleasure, an additional assortment of unbelievable claims and interesting tidbits:

  • We’re supposed to believe that this passenger rail system can be maintained without taxpayer money, while Amtrak is subsidized by taxpayers to the tune of $50 per ticket.
  • The study was funded by a firm that designs rail projects and manages construction projects.
  • That people would be willing to pay $80 round trip to Vail just to go as fast as they would in their cars.
  • That $40 ticket each way is the low cost estimate. As in, “could be as low as $40 per ticket.” Wow.
  • It projects ridership upwards of 35 million passengers a year. The Boston to Washington, D.C., corridor carries around 10 million per year.
  • About that last figure, the 35 million one, Amtrak carries around 10 million per year as well. That math just doesn’t add up.
  • These great facts and figures were brought to my attention through this fantastic Denver Post editorial and Denver Daily News piece. The DDN article features our very own Senior Fellow in Transportation Randal O’Toole. Randal has been waging a war on the bogus claims made by RTD over the years and pulled no punches on this outrageous report saying, “They’re using the most optimistic assumptions imaginable and then relying on compounded optimistic assumptions.” Yeah, kind of like compounded interest. Except with compounded optimism you don’t make money, you lose a ton and go deep into debt.

    If you haven’t had the chance to hear Randal, take a few minutes and listen. His recent appearance on my TV show Independent Thinking was an opportunity to say “I told you so” with Denver Post columnist Chuck Plunkett. Randal also presented to an audience for an event here at the Institute a little while ago titled, “Mobility vs. Gridlock: Colorado’s Transportation Future.” You can view that event via YouTube playlist here.

    Leave Our State Alone: A Constitutional Path to Prosperity: It’s no secret that University of Colorado economics professor and senior fellow Barry Poulson is a prolific writer. The man cranks out a consistent bevy of works that are both substantive and interesting (the latter being something you almost never get from an economist). His latest piece is no exception. In “Restoring Federalism and State Sovereignty: A Constitutional Path to Prosperity,” Barry gives a brief overview of how we got to where we are – states becoming more and more subservient to Federal power – and the important role the Judiciary played in steering us in that direction. (I say “steering,” but Barry would probably say “pushing.”) After years of judicial abdication bolstering Federal powers and all but eviscerating Constitutional constraints, what can we do to turn the ship around? Is it too late?

    Are teachers unions to blame?: On March 16 in New York City, a panel of three union officials and supporters (including American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten) debated a panel of three union critics (including former Secretary of Education Rod Paige) on whether teachers unions are to blame for our nation’s failing schools. Watch the revealing two-hour event, and see for yourself why most of the audience ended up agreeing that unions bear the blame. If you don’t have enough time, please read our own Ben DeGrow’s insights on the Ed News Colorado blog.

    The State Board of Ed… According to Bob: Ever wonder what the Colorado State Board of Education does? I was curious myself, so I tuned in to this two- part iVoices.org podcast between Fiscal Policy Center Director Penn Pfiffner and former Congressman and current State Board of Education Chairman Bob Schaffer. In the first installment, Bob gives listeners news from the Board – what’s going on, what they’re planning, and information regarding the “Race to the Top” funds. In the second installment, Bob goes over what the Board does, its functions, its impact, and how it shapes policy for all of Colorado’s schools.

    Must See TV: It’s Obama Care and medical privacy on this week’s Independent Thinking as the Independence Institute’s Health Care Policy Center Director Linda Gorman and Colorado Transparency Project Director Amy Oliver-Cooke join me to discuss the political and policy implications for Colorado of the recently passed federal health care reform bill (otherwise known as Obama Care), and the implications for medical privacy in Colorado should the state legislature pass House Bill 1330, the All-Payer Database, which would allow the state to collect and store your personal health care information without your consent. It’s a health care double whammy this Friday at 8:30 PM on KBDI Channel 12. Re-broadcast the following Monday at 1:30 PM.

    Perspective: In this week’s op-ed, Jessica Corry takes CU to task for not exploring all options before making their decision to raise tuition rates by the maximum 9% allowed by law. If Colorado citizens have to tighten the ol’ belt, why not CU?

    Until next week…

    Straight on

    Jon Caldara

    www.independenceinstitute.org


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