Political News

Obama, governors discuss stimulus

Posted February 23, 2009 3:45 a.m. EST
Updated February 23, 2009 11:55 a.m. EST

— President Barack Obama addressed members of the National Governors Association Monday on how to spend the economic stimulus money soon flowing to their states.

"We expect a lot from you as the hard work of making the recovery plan's promise begins," Obama told the governors. He put Vice President Joe Biden in charge of overseeing the implementation of the stimulus, saying, "Joe will work closely with governors and mayors to keep things on track."

Obama named Earl Devaney, a former Secret Service agent who helped expose lobbyists' corruption at the Interior Department, to head the new Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability Board. Devaney, Obama said, "will watch the taxpayers money with more rigor and transparency" than ever before.

Obama created the board as an at-large body to oversee how the government spends the $787 billion stimulus package.

After his remarks, the president ushered the media out of the room so he could take questions from and offer ideas to the governors.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat and the NGA chairman, said he planned to press the president on the need for more investment in infrastructure projects like road and bridge repair going forward.

"Although the stimulus program is a great first step, we want to impress on the president that it's only a first step. We need to plan for the future, for the next five to 10 years," Rendell said Sunday.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a former Republican National Committee chairman who has criticized the stimulus plan, said he nonetheless looked forward to hearing Obama's views on repairing the distressed economy.

"He's a new president, and we certainly owe him that," Barbour said.

White House officials said that for his part, Obama would stress the need for accountability and transparency in how the governors spend the stimulus funds. He issued a similar warning to the nation's mayors on Friday, saying he would "call them out" if they waste the money.

WRAL reporter Dan Bowens is in D.C. Watch his live reports beginning  tonight at 5 p.m.