What Part of "Independent" Don't You Understand?
Reader comment on: Krugman's Tunnel Vision
Submitted by Kevin T. Keith (United States), Oct 8, 2010 23:37
I know that Conservative Reading Comprehension Disorder is at epidemic proportions, but, really, this one wasn't that hard.
Krugman was explicitly commenting on Christie's complaint that the project would put the state in debt. He points out that there are three major funding sources for the tunnel, only one of which comes out of the state budget, and thus the state is actually getting subsidized for two-thirds of its costs to begin with. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is "independent" of the State of New Jersey for funding purposes - the purposes he is discussing in the article - because, as you yourself note, it is self-funding and does not draw from the state budget. The fact that New Jerseyites use the Port Authority is not the point - their fees do not go into the state budget, and the Port Authority's using that money to build the new tunnel it desperately needs does not create state debt. (Extrapolating this explanation to the issue of federal taxes is left as an exercise for a reader smart enough to do the math, if you can find one.) Krugman was catering to dullards in the crowd who might be confused by the fact that it has the words "New Jersey" in its name, and reassuring them that that did not mean it was state funded, because it is financially independent - and therefore its contribution to the tunnel project does not contribute to state debt. Apparently he didn't count on dullards who couldn't follow the point of the piece at all.
This project is two-thirds funded by sources other than the state budget; it comes at a time of massive unemployment in the very industries needed to do the work for the project; and it would be funded by long-term federal bonds which currently carry almost zero interest. Not only is it a desperately needed project that will bring exactly the benefits the state needs at exactly the time they are needed, but there will literally never be a better time or better way to get such a project done. By demanding that the state start over, junking a project that has been in planning for decades in favor of pre-planning for some other project that hasn't even been thought of yet, which will have to be funded at some later date at much higher interest, Christie has unilaterally delayed this needed improvement for decades more, forfeited $300 million in sunk costs the state must now pay back for no benefit whatsoever, and committed the state to further hundreds of millions of dollars of financing costs that it could have avoided completely - as well as, likely, having to foot the full bill itself, since there is no guarantee that outside funders will offer to pick up 2/3 of the tab for Christie's future fantasy boondoggle (and why would they, after what he did with the money they already gave him?). It is literally the worst possible outcome by any measure: it delays the project, wastes funds already spent, increases financing costs, spurns billions of dollars in outside ("independent") funding and thus likely increases total costs to the state, and abandons potential jobs for New Jersey workers - for no benefit, on one moron's idiotic, selfish, and short-sighted ideological impulse.
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