Bill Clinton: China is "Doing Great" on High-Speed Rail [UPDATED]

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(File Photo CC by World Economic Forum)

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) President Clinton was in New York City today to join NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg in announcing the merger of  C40 cities, a global coalition of world capitals led by the Mayor to head off Global Warming and the Clinton Climate Initiative.

At the announcement at Gracie Mansion, President Clinton gave high marks to China's high-speed rail progress. "Just as our Congress is defunding rapid rail, they have tested a train that runs 306 m.p.h almost 100 m.p.h. faster than the fastest Japanese and German trains. I would give them a good grade on that. They are doing great."

Listen to Bill Clinton on China's high-speed rail.

Clinton also spoke about green jobs among other environmental topics, WNYC's Bob Hennelly asked the President, "In this last budget deal to keep the government open, one of the things that took s terrible hit was both the EPA and the kind of green jobs you talk about. How can we overcome the kinds of setbacks and develop this long term view?"

Listen to Bill Clinton on green energy and jobs:


One of the real challenges that the President faces in negotiating with the Republicans--and it’s a similar to what I faced in 1995--was captured in the Wisconsin debate. That is, there’s a difference between finding the most effective way to reduce the deficit and the debt and using that to further some ideological goal.

Now, a lot of people in the new majority don’t believe in climate change and don’t believe in green energy. In the tax compromise at the end of the year, the only bad thing about it was they got rid of that payment which was the equivalent of a 30 percent per employee tax credit for green manufacturing jobs.

But, you know, neither the mayor nor I can have an enormous amount of influence on that. I hope that there will be some thought given to that. All this business about they have to subsidize green energy. That’s just, more than others, not true.

Coal doesn’t pay for the air pollution, external costs that they make. We give…  the administration is supporting, and the Republicans voted for subsidizing nuclear giving them big low interest loan.

And in 2005, the Congress recognizing that no insurance company would write insurance on a nuclear power plant, basically said the federal government would do it. How much bigger subsidy can you get?

All I know is, if you look at the numbers all over the world, here’s what they are. For every billion dollars you spend on a coal fired plant you get about 870 jobs.

Nuclear less  because it’s so expensive. Natural gas, a little more, but it’s much better environmentally.

Every billion on solar energy: 18,000 – 19,000 jobs. Every billion you spend on wind energy, if you make the windmills and the turbines where you put them up, 3,300 jobs.

Every billion you spend on building retrofits, 7,000 jobs. and you get a quicker payout.

So, what I think we have to do, the mayor and I, we’ve got to go around and figure out, in all these countries where the C-40s are, and in the cities, can we get the money to do the financing or the guarantees somewhere else?

Twenty-five percent unemployment in construction in America. You can’t build many new houses, that would be immoral. There’s not much demand for commercial space. But there are untold number of schools and universities and hospitals and auditoriums and commercial buildings without much encumbrance, that this could be done on.

So my answer to you is, whatever the Congress does, the money is the banks. There is more than two trillion in banks in uncommitted cash reserves, that is not committed to loans.

There are according to the last [inaudible] about 160 billion in questionable mortgages that banks may have to hold reserves against. That leaves a staggering amount of money that can be loaned to do this work if we can work it through.

Corporations have a lot of money they haven’t given back in dividends or salaries or invested overseas. They have to make these decisions.

And labor unions have huge pension funds who can probably get a better return here than in a zero interest environment.

That’s my argument, that’s what we should do.

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