Archive for Public Debt – Federal

Estimated Costs of the California High-Speed Rail 1996-2012, with Links to Sources

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It isn’t your imagination: cost estimates for the California High-Speed Rail have varied widely but generally have skyrocketed. The $9.95 billion that California voters authorized to borrow for the High-Speed Rail by selling bonds (through Proposition 1A in November 2008) isn’t going to get the job done, even if the Federal Railroad Administration does end up sending $38 billion to California. (Federal debt as of January 18, 2013 is $16,432,619,424,703.06 – $16.4 trillion.)

And don’t forget that money borrowed through bond sales has to be paid back, with interest and financial transaction fees. For the privilege of selling $9.95 billion in bonds, add another $19.4 billion to $23.2 billion for the cost of debt service, and hope that interest rates remain low and California stays out of bankruptcy.

While some experts blame inflation for the increase in the cost estimates, note that $16.5 billion in 1996 dollars should equal $24.1 billion in 2012 dollars, according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) Inflation Calculator on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics web site. In addition, the sharp decline in the prosperity of the California construction industry from 2007 to 2012 should have modified the market cost of construction services and labor. (Note that state-mandated wage rates – so-called “prevailing wages” – are determined for construction trades and certain professional services based on multi-year union collective bargaining agreements, and not wage surveys or statistics from the California Economic Development Department that might reflect actual market conditions.)

Cost Estimates for California High-Speed Rail 1996-2012
(if a range is given, the higher number is cited)
$16.5 billion 1996 September 1996 Final Report of the California Intercity High Speed Rail Commission
$25 billion 2000 2000 California High-Speed Train Business Plan
$37 billion 2005 August 2005 California High-Speed Train Final Program EIR/EIS 
$45 billion 2008 July 7, 2008 Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Study of Assembly Bill 3034
$45 billion 2008 Analysis by the Legislative Analyst in the Official Voter Information Guide for the November 4, 2008 Election – Prop 1A – Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act “The authority estimated in 2006 that the total cost to develop and construct the entire high-speed train system would be about $45 billion.”
$33.6 billion 2008 November 2008 California High-Speed Train Business Plan
$43 billion 2011 May 2011 Report of the California Legislative Analyst’s Office
$98.1 billion 2011 November 1, 2011 California High-Speed Rail Program Draft 2012 Business Plan
$68.4 billion 2012 April 12, 2012 California High-Speed Rail Authority Revised 2012 Business Plan
$150 billion 2040 Common Sense! Huge infrastructure projects almost always end up costing a lot more than originally claimed.

The Case Against the Davis-Bacon Act: 54 Reasons for Repeal – Book Forum for This New Publication

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Tomorrow (Wednesday, October 17, 2012) at noon Eastern time (9:00 a.m. Pacific time), the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. will hold a forum on the new book The Case Against the Davis-Bacon Act: 54 Reasons for Repeal.

The Case Against the Davis-Bacon Act: 54 Reasons for Repeal

The Case Against the Davis-Bacon Act: 54 Reasons for Repeal

Here’s the Cato Institute’s description of the book forum:

Featuring the author Armand Thieblot, Olin Institute, George Mason University; with comments by Maurice Baskin, Partner, Venable, LLP, and co-author of Construction Union Tactics to Regain Jobs and Public Policy; moderated by James A. Dorn, Editor, Cato Journal, and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Cato Institute.

Advance copies of the book will be exclusively available at the forum. Online registration for this event is now closed. If you are interested in registering for the event please email If you can’t make it to the Cato Institute, watch this event live online at and join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #CatoEvents. Also follow @CatoEvents on Twitter to get future event updates, live streams, and videos from the Cato Institute.

The Davis-Bacon Act, the law that sets wages typically at or near the union rate for workers on billions of dollars worth of public works annually, has afflicted the construction industry for eight full decades. Obsolete and impossible to administer fairly when first passed in 1931, it has not improved since. It has been actively sustained through biased participation by the Department of Labor for the exclusive benefit of organized labor. If not repealed, Davis-Bacon will add billions of dollars of unnecessary costs to public works built over the next decade. Armand Thieblot, a longtime student of the act, documents some major reasons—in addition to cost savings—to repeal it, and shows why actions short of repeal will not be effective. Repeal of Davis-Bacon early in the coming administration will provide major stimulus to a construction industry that desperately needs the help.

When I began working for Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) in January 1995 as the Manager of State Affairs, one of my first duties was the promotion and distribution of Dr. Armand Thieblot’s 1995 report State Prevailing Wage Laws: An Assessment at the Start of 1995. As the general counsel for Associated Builders and Contractors, Maury Baskin provided me with advice and guidance during my more than 17 years in government affairs management positions for ABC National, ABC of California, and the ABC Golden Gate Chapter (now known as the ABC Northern California Chapter).

A Rarity Among Candidates’ Statements of Qualifications: Tom McClintock Pontificates on Political Philosophy and Ends with a Dire Warning

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In California, county election officials mail or email information pamphlets to voters before an election. These pamphlets include statements of qualifications submitted by candidates running for U.S. House of Representatives, California State Legislature, and local offices.

This procedure is authorized by law in California Elections Code Section 13300 et seq. I don’t know if many Californians read the statements or actually use them as a guide to voting. In rare cases in which I don’t know much about the candidates (races for water districts seem particularly inscrutable), I usually look at the lists of endorsements of politicians and special interest groups on campaign web sites for surmising where candidates actually stand on policy issues. This can be especially critical for non-partisan local offices such as county supervisor, city council member, and school board member.

Frankly, most of the candidate statements I’ve read over the years are pabulum – full of platitudes, resume puffery, and lists of nice things the candidate will do using the government as the vehicle. In other words, “Vote for me: I’m a wonderful person who will get you more stuff paid for by someone else!”

In stark contrast is the candidate statement of my own member of Congress, U.S. Representative Tom McClintock, who is running for reelection in California’s 4th Congressional District. He sets aside flattery and bribery and provides a clean, concise philosophical statement, concluding with a warning about the future of the country. He does not cater to the caprices and irrational desires of the democratic majority, but instead rises to the ideals of a republic.

Here is his statement for the June 5, 2012 primary election:


Tom McClintock

Occupation: United States Representative

Education and Qualifications: If more spending, borrowing and bureaucrats produces prosperity, our economy should be booming by now. The reality is that no nation has ever taxed, spent and borrowed its way to prosperity, yet some would take us still further down this road to debt, doubt and despair.

You sent me to Washington to fight for common-sense solutions to relieve hardworking Americans from the stifling burdens of government bureaucracies and unleash the potential of the American people. I’ve done my best to be worthy of your trust.

But this time, something more precious than even our economy is at stake.

America’s prosperity and greatness spring from uniquely American principles of individual freedom and constitutionally limited government.

America’s Founders created a voluntary society where people are free to make their own choices, enjoy the fruit of their own labors, take responsibility for their own decisions and lead their own lives with a minimum of governmental interference and intrusion.

Today, a very different vision competes for our future: that of a compulsory society, where our fundamental rights are subordinated to the mandates of government bureaucrats, where innocent taxpayers are forced to bail out the bad decisions of others and where consumers are compelled to purchase the products or underwrite the losses of politically connected companies.

This election may well decide which society we leave our children and grandchildren.

I stand with America’s Founders.

If you would like to join my campaign at, I would be honored to have your support.

See the officially posted statement here: Placer County Elections – CA 4th Congressional District – Tom McClintock

The Federal Debt is $15.7 Trillion, and 32 Percent is Owned by Foreign Entities: Original Source Documents for Your Reference

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Keep informed about the destiny of the United States: go to the official US government web sites to get information about the debt of the United States and who owns it.

According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of Public Debt, the federal debt is listed as $15,660,736,663,887.96 as of April 18, 2012. Get the latest number here: Today’s Federal Debt.

Who owns the federal debt? See this chart: Ownership of Federal Securities. Notice about one-third of the federal debt (about $5.1 trillion) is owed by foreign entities. According to this chart, the People’s Republic of China owns about $1.18 trillion and Japan owns about $1.1 trillion. No other country comes close.

Examining these charts for long-term trends, you’ll see that in January 2001, foreign ownership of the US debt was about 18 percent (compared to 32 percent now). (This was a time when the federal debt was generally falling!)

It seems based on a quick survey using web searches that newspapers based in other countries are more diligent about reporting on foreign holdings of United States debt than American newspapers. However, there was an Associated Press story from April 16, 2012:

Foreign Holdings of US Debt Hit Record High

China needs your money! There are two ways for you to make a contribution to reduce the United States debt:

You can make a contribution online either by credit card, checking or savings account at

You can write a check payable to the Bureau of the Public Debt, and in the memo section, notate that it’s a Gift to reduce the Debt Held by the Public. Mail your check to this address:

Attn Dept G
Bureau of the Public Debt
P. O. Box 2188
Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188