The MTA’s $81 million elevators and other commentary

Policy wonk: The MTA’s $81 Million Elevators

Slate’s Henry Grabar asks a tough question about the MTA’s proposed new capital plan, which budgets “$5.1 billion to make 63 subway stations” wheelchair-accessible, $81 million per station: Why does that cost “three to 10 times what peer cities pay for the same work”? In Europe, it’s rarely above $25 million for such elevators. Notably: “Madrid, Spain, is adding three elevators to a metro station for $6 million. Lyon, France, is adding one for $4 million.” Meanwhile, despite exposes on waste in building the first leg of the Second Avenue line, the plan assumes the second leg “will cost even more.” You’d expect leaders to say, “Something is wrong, and we should fix it.” But Gov. “Cuomo will plow ahead. We’ll get our 66 elevators. We could have had hundreds more.”

Economy watch: Calm Those Recession Fears

“The U.S. economy is outperforming expectations,” note Bloomberg News’ Jeff Kearns and Steve Matthews, “offering a fresh rebuttal” to “resurgent recession fears fueled by the trade war and a manufacturing slump.” Key indicators that just beat expectations include existing home sales and jobless claims, pushing the Bloomberg Economic Surprise Index to “an 11-month high” as a similar Citigroup measure hit its “highest level since April 2018.” And Europe and Japan are seeing “similar surprise upbeat readings.” Wells Fargo senior economist Mark Vitner sums up: “The risk of recession is grossly overstated.”

From the left: Warren’s Rivals Start To Circle

Elizabeth Warren has been “coasting to her position atop the 2020 Democratic primary field,” says Gideon Resnick at the Daily Beast, “often dodging the scrums other candidates have engaged in on the trail and the debate stage.” But now “her opponents have begun to notice” and have “started to test out attack lines against her.” In a CNN interview, Pete Buttigieg called her “evasive” on raising middle-class taxes to fund Medicare for All, asking why she doesn’t just say “yes” when “everybody knows” that her plan will increase the tax rate. And Kamala Harris “appeared to knock Warren for transferring money from her Senate campaign prior to her presidential outfit,” while Amy Klobuchar said some Warren plans “are better left in the college faculty lounge.”

From the right: Labor’s Tainted Campaign Cash

Even though unions have “sent over $1.6 billion to the Left since 2010,” 2020 could be “the first presidential election in recent memory where Democratic candidates don’t covet cash from Big Labor,” argues Charlyce Bozzello at the Washington Examiner. Why? Major union scandals, including a sexual-misconduct lawsuit against Service Employees International Union leaders and a federal investigation that’s convicted four United Auto Workers officials for “funneling $4.5 million away from the union’s training center and into their own pockets,” as well as a recent strike threat from the AFL-CIO’s own staff. In this year of increasing “labor liabilities,” Democrats may want to “find a new path to the Oval Office” that isn’t so scandal-ridden.

Iconoclast: The Problem With Cancel Culture

“All cultures ‘cancel’ certain actions and opinions,” notes Damon Linker at The Week, and nearly everyone would be on board with canceling “Nazis, Stalinists, violent racists, child molesters, and practitioners of incest and cannibalism.” But that’s not Yet today’s “cancel culture.” Instead, “a small number of online progressives have appointed themselves a moral vanguard, upholding and attempting to enforce, through the methods of a digital mob, a form of puritanical egalitarianism that is affirmed only by a few.” This “public bullying, accusation, and humiliation” may produce a “very political backlash” because of its “moral browbeating.” The problem isn’t that “it cancels certain peoples and ideas,” but rather “how it seeks to do so.”

— Compiled by Karl Salzmann & Mark Cunningham

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