First Republicans claimed that the stimulus bill included a $4 billion grant to ACORN. That was false. Then Republicans claimed that the bill included $30 million to save the "marsh mouse" in Nancy Pelosi's district. That was false. Then they started complaining that Harry Reid had inserted $8 billion to construct a high speed rail line between Disneyland and Las Vegas. Here's John Boehner:
“Tell me how spending $8 billion,” asked House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) on the floor, “in this bill to have a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and Las Vegas is going to help the construction worker in my district.”
There was $2 billion in the Senate bill of the stimulus package for light rail; there was zero in the House. It came out of conference - only Democrats, no Republicans in the room - with $8 billion for light rail. And guess where it’s going to go? A light rail between Las Vegas and L.A. Everybody knows that.
Like the ACORN grant and the marsh mouse program, this claim is utterly false -- even though McCain thinks "everybody knows" it's true. It might be a good thing to construct a high speed rail line between LA and Las Vegas, but in fact the bill makes no mention of one, nor, as far as I can tell, has anyone proposed one. No such line shows up in the Federal Railroad Association's high speed rail corridor designations:
Railroads made Chicago, and now a Chicago-rich White House wants to return the favor: remaking rail with a huge new federal investment in high-speed passenger trains.
The $787.2 billion economic recovery bill — to be signed by President Barack Obama on Tuesday — dedicates $8 billion to high-speed rail, most of which was added in the final closed-door bargaining at the instigation of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.
. . . As a candidate for president, Obama spoke of high-speed rail as part of his vision of “rebuilding America.” Campaigning in Indiana, he talked of revitalizing the Midwest by connecting cities with faster rail service to relieve congestion and improve energy conservation.
. . . But the administration never emphasized high-speed rail when the House Appropriations Committee was writing its bill in January, so no money was included. The first real request came only days before the Senate Appropriations panel marked up, and the committee had to scramble to find room for $2 billion — in part by cutting other Obama priorities.
Last week, Emanuel greatly upped the ante, asking House-Senate negotiators for $10 billion for high-speed rail — far more than either bill provided.
“I put it in there for the president,” Emanuel said in an interview. “The president wanted to have a signature issue in the bill, his commitment for the future.”
Emanuel himself was excited by the idea, but the decision to wager so much on high-speed rail reflected the fact that other candidates for a signature Obama issue were fading.
Moderate Senate Republicans, whose votes were needed, were resisting the president’s school construction initiative. Modernizing the nation’s electric grid, another White House favorite, seemed to have lost some of its cachet.
High-speed rail sailed through with surprisingly little attention paid to the president’s role.
The same Maine and Pennsylvania Republican moderates who had criticized Obama’s school construction initiative were more accepting of the rail funds, since the Northeast corridor has a major stake in more improvements.
The Secretary of Transportation will have discretion to award grants based on an extensive set of criteria, including the legal, financial and technical capacity of the applicant to carry out the project; compatibility with relevant national plans; and anticipated economic, environmental and transportation effects.
So, Republican complaints about an LA to Las Vegas high speed rail line are entirely fictional. Like the bogus claims about the ACORN grant and the marsh mouse project, Republicans have concocted this claim because there's an apparent shortage of honest arguments against the stimulus bill.