On today's edition of Meet the Press, the panel included former Republican National Committee chairman and longtime Republican strategist Ed Gillespie, who ridiculed President Obama's plan to develop high-speed rail lines across the United States. After providing GOP talking points on the union protests in Wisconsin and praising congressional Republicans for tackling the mounting federal debt, which, he claimed, Obama isn't doing, Gillespie highlighted Obama's high-speed rail proposal as evidence that the president is "out of touch." Watch:
DAVID GREGORY (host): My question though, Ed, is whether or not Republicans are looking at all this and saying, "Look, we got to own the budget message," yes, but are they worried that Republicans overreach here, which is what, of course ... the Democrats and the White House are counting on?
GILLESPIE: I don't sense that right now, David. I've never seen a political environment, and particularly on the Republican side, but generally as well, where there is a greater political risk to be seen as unwilling to cut spending than there is to be cutting spending. I've never seen a dynamic like this like we see right now. And again, that's why I think President Obama's out of touch. I mean, you know, Amtrak loses $1 billion a year. He's proposing $53 billion for high-speed rail in his budget. We're not losing money fast enough? We got to lose it at a faster rate? It is -- they -- there's a disconnect here that I think is going to cost him in 2012.
In reality, it is Gillespie who, like many in the right-wing media, is out of touch. Gillespie's claim that the project is a waste of money completely discounts the economic boon high-speed rail is estimated to create.
Gillespie adds to the litany of conservative media figures who have consistently ignored the job-creating potential of high-speed rail. Gillespie's comments follow a week of misleading reporting on Florida Gov. Rick Scott's decision to refuse federal funding for a high-speed rail corridor between Tampa and Orlando. While conservative media figures praised Scott for standing up for fiscal responsibility by rejecting the federal money, they ignored the estimated tens of thousands of jobs his decision cost the state.
Indeed, recent studies have found that high-speed rail has huge economic and job creating potential across the country. A recent study conducted by Siemens and the Economic Development Research Group for the United States Conference of Mayors found that high-speed rail could bring an estimated 55,000 new jobs to Los Angeles, 42,000 jobs to Chicago, 27,500 to Orlando, and 21,000 jobs to Albany, NY -- as well as billions in business sales and new wages in those cities.