Obama warns against wasting stimulus dollars
President Barack Obama told a gathering of U.S. mayors at the White House on Friday that he would hold them accountable for wisely spending money they receive from the $798 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act he signed into law.
Republicans have criticized the law for adding too much debt without clear indications the money will go to programs that directly create new jobs. Obama has said the economic stimulus law will save or create 3.5 million jobs.
Congress and the White House had little time to build safeguards into the law for how the money is spent, but the money must go through traditional grant programs and Obama is trying to use sunshine as the best deterrent against mismanagement.
'The American people are watching. They need this plan to work. They expect to see the money that they’ve earned, that they’ve worked so hard to earn, spent in its intended purposes without waste, without inefficiency, without fraud,' the president said.
The White House, among other steps, is creating a team of managers to monitor how federal agencies, states and local governments allocate the funds they receive, and a Web site — www.recovery.gov — so the public can go online and see what projects are being funded.
'So I want to be clear about this: We cannot tolerate business as usual — not in Washington, not in our state capitols, not in America’s cities and towns. We will use the new tools that the recovery act gives us to watch the taxpayers’ money with more rigor and transparency than ever. If a federal agency proposes a project that will waste that money, I will not hesitate to call them out on it and put a stop to it.
'And I want everybody here to be on notice that if a local government does the same, I will call them out on it and use the full power of my office and our administration to stop it. We have asked for the unprecedented trust of the American people to deal boldly with the greatest economic crisis we’ve seen in decades and the privilege of investing unprecedented amounts of their hard-earned money to address this crisis. And with that comes unprecedented obligations to spend that money wisely — free from politics and free from personal agendas.
'On this, I will not compromise or tolerate any shortcuts,' Obama said.