Political News

Obama tells mayors to spend stimulus money wisely

Posted February 20, 2009 10:52 a.m. EST
Updated February 20, 2009 12:47 p.m. EST

— Invoking his own name-and-shame policy, President Barack Obama warned the nation's mayors Friday that he will "call them out" if they waste the money from his massive economic stimulus plan.

"We have asked for the unprecedented trust of the American people to deal boldly with the greatest economic crisis we have seen in decades – and the privilege of investing unprecedented amounts of their hard-earned money to address this crisis," Obama told a gathering of mayors at the White House.

"With that comes an unprecedented obligation to do so wisely, free from politics and personal agendas," the president said. "On this I will not compromise or tolerate any shortcut."

Durham Mayor Bill Bell, Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory and Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy were among the dozens of mayors who attended the event.

The $787 billion economic plan passed by Congress and signed by Obama will inject a sudden boost of cash into infrastructure, education, energy and health care.

Bell has said Durham has $95 million in local projects that are ready to begin as soon as stimulus money is awarded to the city.

Now the political focus shifts to how all that taxpayer money will be spent on meaningful, job-creating projects.

Obama has staked his reputation on it.

He said Friday that legislation will allow the country "to watch the taxpayers' money with more rigor and transparency than ever."

The White House released excerpts of Obama's comments shortly before he spoke in the East Room.

"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," Obama said.

"But I want everyone here to be on notice that if a local government does the same - I will call them out on it as well, and use the full power of my office and our administration to stop it," he said.

The president did not specify how, exactly, he would call out one of his administration's own agencies or a local government.