Opinion: Joe Biden update: He draws Italy duty in June

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The peripatetic President Obama is off to El Paso, Texas, today for another speech calling on someone to do something about the nation’s broken immigration system. He’ll also squeeze in a pair of Democratic Party fundraisers in Austin.

Joe Biden will stay behind to put in another day of useless bipartisan negotiations on comprehensive deficit reduction, which polls indicate will be a hot debate topic in next year’s campaigns.

Speaking of growing the nation’s deficits, the Obama team has plans to spend $53 billion on high-speed rail infrastructure in the next 72 months, assuming they’re around that long -- and they can railroad the Republican House to go along on that fiscal ride.

Biden was in on the big announcement Monday about spending $2 billion of that fortune on high-speed trains that a few people want in parts of the country.


You’ll remember newly-installed Florida Gov. Rick Scott turned down that $2 billion federal train money, citing likely cost overruns and long-term operating expenses on a proposed 84-mile rail link between Tampa and Orlando.

But the Obama administration’s Department of Transportation was determined to spend that money on union jobs one way or another.

So it found 22 projects in 15 other states to throw the money at. A large bundle went to the Northeast, of course, where JB used to commute by train from Delaware to the U.S. Capitol, while he was waiting for Obama to grow up.

California’s Gov. Jerry Brown, who was just getting into politics when the first trains reached California, intends to use his money to speed up rail service between San Francisco and Los Angeles because his state’s citizens are famous for their love of trains over cars.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will invest his state’s money on part of the rail line to Chicago. That way, someday people in Dearborn and Kalamzaoo will be able to escape those cities at speeds up to 110 miles an hour.

This will be several more busy weeks of travel for both Obama and Biden, although they leave trains for other people to ride. Obama is flying off to Poland, France and Great Britain later this month and also Ireland to track down some very distant relatives for the cameras.

The Bidens, it was announced Monday, have been assigned to visit Italy in early June to join the important 150th anniversary celebration of that country’s unification. That should make up for his trip to Finland and Moldova last winter.

The weather should be gorgeous in Italy by then.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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