Poor Carpetblogger.  He tries his best to spin John Kasich losing $400 million in economic development dollars by killing the 3C passenger rail system whose planning dates back to the Voinovich Administration.

But each one of his points fails as nothing more than empty partisan rhetoric.

1. “Ohio can’t afford it.”

So under the original projections, Ohio will need to pony up about $135 million more in start-up costs in addition to the “$17 million or more in subsidies.”

Keeling’s point would have some merit if he didn’t engage in political hypocrisy.  He’s saying that Ohio cannot afford to spend $135 million to study and upgrade our existing freight lines (lines that Kasich wanted to spend the same $400 million to upgrade without creating a passenger rail service), yet apparently we can afford the over $820 million in tax cuts John Kasich is promising to include in his first budget?

Seriously, until there is a conservative who is willing to admit we cannot afford over $820 million in tax cuts in the next budget (which will be paid with corresponding spending cuts), then I find this line of attack on the 3C highly hypocritical.  If we can find room in the budget for a tax cut that will cost over 40 times the annual operation costs of the 3C, then we can afford the 3C.  Besides we won’t get a better, more affordable opportunity to afford such start up costs than we do with this grant of $400 million… which was granted based on bipartisan support for the 3C plan.

As for Keeling’s second point, because this plan counts on improving existing infrastructure, there’s substantially less likelihood of cost overruns.  Keeling tries to suggest that the contractor involved is likely to run over budget simply because it went over budget in the Big Dig project in Boston.  I guess he only complains about smearing private businesses that is creating jobs in Ohio for political purposes only applies if you’re a Democrat doing it, huh?

Anyways, you can find literally thousands of projects in which this contractor completed project in or before the scheduled time and on budget, including an expansion of Logan Airport in Boston.

Keeling is the typical conservative hypocrite.  Screaming about Democrats’ abject fiscal irresponsibility while demanding that the Bush tax cuts be made permanent even though there’s never been a plan to pay for them.

Utterly clueless.

2. “Nobody will ride it.”

Keeling apparently thinks that there’s no rush hour traffic in Ohio because he found some rush-hour traffic cams that didn’t show gridlock.  I guess since I live in Ohio and have commuted regularly in Columbus and Cincinnati, I have a slightly different experience than his pictures show.

Ohio, through AmTrak, has limited passenger rail through parts of southern and northern Ohio already. According to the News Record, Ohioans are riding passenger trains more and more in Ohio, even under their limited opportunities:

The letters from Kasich come in spite of a review in October by the Ohio Department of Transportation showing an increase of 14 percent in the number of passengers on Ohio trains in 2010.

Approximately 147,000 people rode trains in 2010 according to the study by Amtrak and ODOT, compared to 128,174 passengers in 2009.

That’s 147,000 Ohioans riding an existing passenger rail system that moves slower than driving.  I should know.  I’ve ridden the Cardinal line from South Portsmouth to D.C. before.  It’s definitely slower than driving, but far more enjoyable.

And the point is that we must crawl before we can run.  We need to develop and effective passenger rail system if we’re ever to develop a passenger high-speed “bullet” rail system.

Again, the fact that 3C will link a majority of our major populated areas, it is not optimistic to estimate that annual ridership would top half a million given the current ridership we see in Ohio during the substantially more limited system.

The speed issue is specifically what the studies that Kasich is insisting Strickland end is designed to address.  It is entirely possible that the $400 million can upgrade existing rail facilities to make it as fast or perhaps faster than vehicular traffic before we have a truly “high speed”/”bullet train” system.

Regardless speed isn’t what always dictates travel choices.  I could easy fly to Cleveland faster than I drive, but I’ve never done so,  and I’m not alone.  We first have to start with something similar to 3C if we are to ever develop a passenger rail system that constitutes as truly high-speed rail.  Keeling ignores this very salient point that 3C is about taking an evolutionary step in transportation, it’s not the end point.

3. “”But what about the jobs?”

I want to run Keeling’s exact quote on this issue because it’s so priceless:

“It’s not the government’s responsibility to subsidize employment for the sake of making sure someone has a job.”

This is the same Jon Keeling that’s been praising Kasich’s JobsOhio plan to allow private corporate leaders to…. decide who gets government subsidies for the sake of making sure someone has a job.  John Kasich and Keeling both have attacked Governor Strickland for not moving fast enough to dole out corporate welfare to keep employers from moving out of the State.  How Keeling can reconcile that criticism with this statement is beyond all rational thinking.

Kasich’s entire campaign was based on the premise that Keeling is now suggesting is false in order to attack the 3C.  If a Governor should not foster policies that create job growth, urban renewal, and economic development, then everything John Kasich said during the campaign was a sham.  Is that really what Keeling believes?

The fact of the matter is that Jon Keeling doesn’t want to admit that running an entire campaign about jobs only to be your first official act is to turn away $400 million in economic development/infrastructure improvement money that will create nearly 16,000 jobs in Ohio is, to paraphrase Keeling,  “a really, really, stupid idea.”

[Note: If you’re interested in a rather fascinating – but technical – explanation of this issue, you might want to check out this diary on DailyKos]