Mark Hemingway’s Preposterous High-Speed Rail Spin

To review what we know about high-speed rail in the stimulus, a last-minute change to the legislation ensured that $8 billion will be appropriated to be spent on high-speed rail projects. Numerous conservative commentators and several Republican legislators have been characterizing this provision as expending $8 billion on a project to build an HSR link between Los Angeles and Las Vegas and darkly hinting that it’s some kind of pork barrel scheme for Harry Reid. That is a wildly inaccurate characterization of the provision which will fund HSR projects nationwide on a competitive basis. So I’ve been complaining about the people who are lying about this. Now along comes Mark Hemingway at the Corner who appears to agree that Reps. Miller and Boehner are completely mischaracterizing the stimulus bill’s HSR provisions, but nonetheless thinks I’m wrong to call them liars because the Vegas-LA route will potentially be eligible for some portion of that $8 billion.

I say: Hemingway is being ridiculous. I’m complaining about people making false statements about HSR in the stimulus. He agrees that they’re statements are false, but somehow I’m to blame? Members of congress wouldn’t get heated denunciations on blogs for making things up if they didn’t make so much stuff up.

UPDATE: Here, for example, is Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) in a February 17 Detroit News op-ed:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stashed a “necessary” high speed rail project in the bill. But how does this $8 billion “Sin Express” from Los Angeles to Las Vegas put someone like Greg from Milford back to work?

McCotter is denouncing a non-existent provision in the bill. He’s lying. If Hemingway has a problem with Republican members of congress being called liars, he needs to get in touch with the McCotters of the world and get them to (a) stop saying this stuff, and (b) demonstrate some good faith by apologizing and correcting the record.