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“Illinois Governor Jay Robert ‘J. B’ Pritzker just can’t help proving over and over that he is the
country’s most incompetent governor,” said Jim Tobin, economist and president of Taxpayers
United of America (TUA). “Now he has signed HB399, a bill authorizing the formation of the
Illinois High-Speed Railway Commission.”

“This is nothing more than a payoff to the labor unions and contractors who are using him as a
tool to enrich themselves with taxpayer dollars. High-speed rail is a pipe dream, but a great way
to squander precious taxpayer dollars building railroad tracks to nowhere.”

According to Mass Transit, “The commission will be responsible for creating a statewide plan
for a high-speed line and feeder network connecting Chicago to St. Louis. It will be integrated
with existing Amtrak and Metra services, intercity bus service and connect the Illinois cities of
Rockford, Moline, Peoria and Decatur.”

Politicians are counting on funds from the federal “infrastructure bill” that would commit $66
billion to passenger and freight rail over five years, and another $39 billion to public transit.

“The study of rail systems by Randal O’Toole, senior fellow with the Cato Institute specializing in
transportation and land use policy, in his study, The High-Speed Rail Money Sink, makes it clear
that high-speed rail simply is not attainable,” said Tobin, “but it sounds good and the politicians
and labor unions love it.”

“O’Toole points out that rail projects are a source of political corruption as well as a waste of
taxpayer dollars. As with any megaproject, high-speed rail is a tempting target for people who
would illegally or unethically divert government dollars to their own political or economic

“If you want to know just how adept politicians are in creating high-speed rail lines,” said Tobin,
“just look at the Chicago–Detroit rail line.”

In 2009, Amtrak operated four trains a day between Chicago and Detroit that went as fast as 56
mph, making the trip in 4 hours and 59 minutes. Michigan received $598 million in high-speed
rail funds, plus $4 million in other funds, to speed up trains in this corridor. Ten years later,
Amtrak still operates four trains a day between Chicago and Detroit that go the same speeds
they went in 2009. Result: $602 million wasted.

“In the 1800s, Pritzker would have enjoyed being a transportation czar, playing with this 19th
Century technology. Unfortunately, we can’t send Pritzker back to the 1800s.”

Sources: Gov. Pritzker signs Illinois High-Speed Railway Commission Bill as Congress debates infrastructure deal | Mass Transit (

Cato Institute Policy Analysis, April 20, 2021 | Number 915
The High-Speed Rail Money Sink by Randal O’Toole


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A report issued by the nonpartisan Washington-based Tax Foundations states that while it is commonly asserted that wealth inequality is too high and rapidly growing over time, “New research from Federal Reserve Bank of Boston economists suggests wealth inequality has grown less than previously estimated and that shares of wealth held by top earners drops significantly when accounting for sources of lower- and middle-class wealth that are often overlooked.”

The Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) is often used to measure wealth inequality, but it fails to adequately capture two sources of retirement wealth that are important for many low- and middle-class households: Defined-benefit (DB) pensions and Social Security (SS) benefits, writes the foundation’s Alex Durante.

Durante states that “Normally, these two sources of wealth are challenging to capture in surveys because it is difficult for people to accurately calculate their future income streams from DB pensions and Social Security. But they are important sources of wealth for certain households so excluding them from the picture will understate wealth at the lower and middle parts of the distribution.”

The Federal Reserve authors of the study found that “When accounting for both defined-benefit and defined-contribution plans, the share of wealth for the top 5 percent of earners drops from 72 percent to 51 percent in 2019. It drops even further, to 45 percent, when adding in SS benefits. Although the share of wealth held by the top 5 percent does still rise from 1989 to 2019, it does so by eight fewer percentage points after these adjustments.”

“This is an important study,” said Jim Tobin, economist, former Federal Reserve auditor, and president of Taxpayers United of America (TUA). “While politicians frequently express ‘concerns’ about wealth inequality, the study clearly shows that the issue is often based on an incomplete picture of the underlying data.”



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Fifteen states have a marriage penalty built into their tax-bracket structure, according to the nonpartisan Washington-based Tax Foundation, and this nonneutral tax treatment is particularly harmful to owners of pass-through businesses, who pay taxes on their business income under the individual income tax system, writes the foundation’s Janelle Cammenga.

Under a graduated-rate income tax system, married couples who file jointly under this scenario face a higher effective tax rate than they would if they filed as two single individuals with the same amount of combined income. With a marriage penalty, married business owners are subject to higher effective tax rates on their business income than they would be otherwise.

According to the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, the 15 states with a marriage penalty built into their income tax bracket structure are California, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

“It’s no surprise that these 15 states include the notorious Blue States of California, New York and New Jersey,” said Jim Tobin, economist and president of Taxpayers United of America (TUA). “These greedy state governments squeeze every penny out of taxpayers unlucky enough to reside in their states.”

“Marriage-tax-penalties should be done away with,” said Tobin. “But an even better solution would be to do away with state income taxes altogether.”