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Reason Alert: Florida High-Speed Rail Decision

Plus exclusive footage of the Atlas Shrugged movie

February 18, 2011

- Florida Governor Makes the Right Decision on Rail Project

- Reason's Exclusive Footage on the Set of the Atlas Shrugged Movie

- The Right Wing Tries to Figure Out Ron Pau

- This Federal Budget Is No Way to Win the Future

- The Medicaid Mess Is Even Worse Than You Think

- Did President Bush Set the Stage for Middle Eastern Democracy?

Florida Governor Makes the Right Decision on High-Speed Rail Project

Since Gov. Rick Scott turned down $2.4 billion in federal funding for the proposed Orlando to Tampa high-speed rail projects, one of the more frequently asked questions has been why didn't Florida just take the billions from the feds and let the private sector build and pay for the rest? Reason Foundation Director of Transportation Robert Poole says the private sector isn't at all convinced there is any money to be made in operating the proposed system. Poole writes, "...the private firms interested in building and operating the [California] high-speed rail project are telling the California High-Speed Rail Authority that they cannot get financing unless the state provides them with 'revenue guarantees.' And what, precisely, is that? If the traffic and revenue on the rail line are below the forecasts on which the financing was based, the state would agree to make up the difference. In other words, operating subsidies. If the private sector required that protection in order to fund the California project, whose ridership potential is far higher than that in Florida, there is no way they would go unprotected in Florida. So Gov. Rick Scott was on firm ground in judging that the risks to Florida taxpayers were simply too great if this project went forward. He made the right decision."
Reason's January Analysis of the Orlando to Tampa Rail Plan

Reason's Exclusive Footage on the Set of the Atlas Shrugged Movie
Reason.tv presents exclusive, behind-the-scenes footage and portions of a never-before-viewed scene from the movie adaption of Ayn Rand's epic and hugely influential novel, Atlas Shrugged.

Reason Interviews Atlas Shrugged's Producer and Screenwriter

Watch Atlas Shrugged and Talk With the Filmmakers at Reason Weekend

The Right Wing Tries to Figure Out Ron Paul
Reason's Brian Doherty says the right wing is having a hard time figuring out Ron Paul. At CPAC, Donald Trump accused Paul of being un-electable. But Paul wins the CPAC straw poll, which prompted a radio host to say libertarians are disrespectfully "hijacking" CPAC and that "libertarians are the worst form of political affiliation in the nation." Doherty writes, "Any standard Republican or movement conservative really can't take Paul seriously without massive cognitive dissonance. You mean, we really really have to obey the Constitution, we really can't keep borrowing and inflating forever? Signs like the CPAC vote of a significant number of politically active youngsters believing in Ron Paul are indeed a sign of an apocalypse of sorts for the world that most politicians and pundits know. If Ron Paul is right, then everything they know is wrong."
Matt Welch Talks Ron Paul and the 2012 Presidential Election on MSNBC
Radley Balko: The ACLU and New Politics
John Stossel: Is Seasteading the Future?

This Federal Budget Is No Way to Win the Future
"To great partisan applause, the president channeled the reality show 'Survivor' (slogan: 'Outwit, Outplay, Outlast') and proclaimed that the United States needs to 'out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.' With the release of his budget proposal for fiscal year 2012, we now know exactly what the president meant: We need to out-spend the world. Sure, the United States government is already wracked with debt -- to the tune of about $9 trillion or 62 percent of gross domestic product -- and government spending is at or near post-World War II highs, about 25 percent of GDP using 2010 numbers. Obama's bold plan is to spend yet more without any ability to cover such new largess. Far from winning the future, Obama has decided to punt on first down. Instead of dealing with federal spending that has ballooned by more than 60 percent in constant 2010 dollars over the past decade -- spending pushed by Republicans and Democrats alike -- the president has decided to stick with a status quo that is leading us to fiscal ruin. In the broadest outlines, Obama proposes spending $3.7 trillion in 2012 (about the same as this year). Over the course of the coming decade, he claims that his spending plan would trim the deficit by about $1.1 trillion, with about two-thirds of theoretical savings coming from spending less than expected (such as a five-year freeze on non-security-related discretionary spending) and one-third from tax increases (on high-income earners). Another way of putting this is that the president's plan for the next decade does nothing to balance spending and revenue; over 10 years, it adds about $8 trillion to the national debt...If all goes according to plan, in 2021, debt held by the public will equal a whopping 77 percent of GDP. Of course, to that debt you have to add the money that the federal government has borrowed to various trust funds, like Social Security and Medicare, and also the trillions of dollars in unfunded promises made to the American people." - Reason's Nick Gillespie and Veronique de Rugy writing at AOL News
More on the Budget:

Gillespie and de Rugy: The 19 Percent Solution

Nick Gillespie and Katrina vanden Heuvel Debate the Budget on CNN's Parker Spitzer

Gillespie Tells Fox's Judge Andrew Napolitano Why Republicans Are "Cowards" on Spending

Video: Three Reasons This Budget (and the GOP Response) Won't Win the Future

Katherine Mangu-Ward Talks Budget Cuts With Judge Napolitano on Freedom Watch

This Is the Time to End Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

The Medicaid Mess Is Even Worse Than You Think
In a column for The Wall Street Journal, Reason magazine's Peter Suderman examines the growing Medicaid problem and what states are trying to do about it: "At roughly 21% of total state spending, Medicaid is already the single largest item in state budgets, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers. Between 2008 and 2009 (the latest year for which figures are available), annual spending growth on the program nearly doubled, growing to 9% from 4.9%. Medicaid currently covers 53 million people at an overall cost of $373.9 billion (states are responsible for about half). But starting in 2014, ObamaCare rules will add about 20 million more, according to Richard Foster, the program's chief actuary. Yet state budgets are already being squeezed. Washington state, facing a $5.7 billion budget hole, has ordered the Medicaid program to cut its budget by 6.3%. The state cannot reduce eligibility to enroll without jeopardizing federal funding altogether."
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels Sets Out to Fix Health Care and Medicare

Did President Bush Set the Stage for Middle Eastern Democracy?
Reason magazine's Jacob Sullum writes, "The conflict between a long-term vision of liberal democracies living in peace with each other and the short-term fears of American politicians was evident in the Obama administration's timid response to the turmoil in Egypt. During nearly three weeks of protests, the vice president declined to call Mubarak a dictator, the secretary of state repeatedly recommended 'an orderly transition,' and the president, despite his 2009 speech in Cairo promising to 'support [human rights] everywhere,' never once said Mubarak should resign. Mindful of democratic elections that have empowered illiberal forces such as Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, Obama, like Bush before him, worries that friendly autocrats will be replaced by hostile populists. Let's hope this fear, which underlies the long history of desperate despot coddling that Bush continued while condemning, does not become a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Related:
Are the Right Dominoes Falling in the Middle East?

Democracy and Freedom Aren't the Same ThingShikha Dalmia Discusses the Threat of Terrorism on Freedom Watch

Dalmia: China and Indian Take Different Growth Paths

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