Florida

PolitiFact Florida Echoes Obama: All Aboard Didn’t Build That

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Photo credit: thenation.com

PolitiFact Florida doubled down on Obama-logic, claiming All Aboard Florida uses state money even though the rail project isn’t subsidized by the state.

All Aboard Florida plans to provide high-speed passenger rail service between Miami and Orlando. Unlike the Obama administration’s “green” stimulus rail plan and the Orlando area’s SunRail, All Aboard Florida is a private venture seeking no taxpayer subsidies.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott and many conservatives support All Aboard Florida, noting the environmental benefits of high-speed rail on existing lines and emphasizing the project’s lack of reliance on taxpayer money. Democrats and the liberal Florida press, after lambasting opponents of the Obama administration’s subsidy-dependent rail plan, suddenly are howling in opposition to All Aboard Florida.

PolitiFact Florida, an arm of the ultra-liberal Tampa Bay Times, decided to “fact check” Scott’s observation that “All Aboard Florida is a 100-percent private venture. There is no state money involved.”

Regarding the first part of Scott’s statement, the private nature of All Aboard Florida is not in dispute. All Aboard Florida is a private company that is not in any way owned by or operating in formal partnership with government officials.

PolitiFact Florida, however, took issue with the second part of Scott’s statement. Although All Aboard Florida is not pursuing any taxpayer subsidies or special government grants or loans, PolitiFact Florida ruled Scott’s statement was “Mostly False.”

According to PolitiFact Florida, Scott cannot claim “no state money is involved” because the legislature has an existing fund for noise reduction zones near railroad tracks. This fund:

  • Is not given to railroad operators
  • Was not requested by All Aboard Florida
  • Is designed solely for the benefit of communities near railroads
  • Is a general application program that would be funded with or without All Aboard Florida
  • Has only a small portion of its funds spent anywhere near lines that would be used by All Aboard Florida
  • Was brought into existence before All Aboard Florida launched its rail service

Despite all of these factors, PolitiFact Florida treated this as taxpayer subsidization of All Aboard Florida for purposes of rating the truthfulness of Gov. Scott’s claim.

PolitiFact Florida also claimed that a separate government proposal to build its own, government-run rail service that would have connecting stations to All Aboard Florida also counts as “state money involved.”

All Aboard Florida has not requested any such government program, but state officials are hoping to benefit from the All Aboard Florida project by launching their own sister project. According to PolitiFact Florida, this counts as “state money being involved” in All Aboard Florida.

Finally, Orlando International Airport recognizes the value of All Aboard Florida and seeks to build its own station to connect to the private project. Again, PolitiFact Florida claimed the government’s decision to exploit the private project for its own benefit amounts to “state money being involved” in All Aboard Florida.

PolitiFact Florida’s logic is reminiscent of President Obama’s claim that any business owner who at any point uses public roads or any other government services owes their success to the government.

You didn’t build that,” said Obama about claims that government should acknowledge and respect private enterprise. While Obama’s claim quickly became a political laughingstock, PolitiFact Florida is doubling down and extending the logic. Now, if government decides to take advantage of a private enterprise for government’s own purposes, nobody can say there is “no state money involved” in the project.

For claiming it is “Mostly False” to say a private company seeking no taxpayer revenues or government funding does not utilize state money, PolitiFact Florida garners its own shameful “Pants on Fire.”

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