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Obama Rebukes Governors for Stimulus Criticism

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  • Obama Rebukes Governors for Stimulus Criticism

    Repeat after me, "We must not oppose what the government has planned for us." BLAH! :mad:

    I wish all of them would back Jindal's opposition to this mess, but all they can think about is getting their grubby little paws on more money.

    Obama rebukes governors for stimulus criticism

    07:34 AM CST on Tuesday, February 24, 2009

    By TODD J. GILLMAN / The Dallas Morning News
    [email protected]

    WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama promised governors a budgetary jump-start Monday, even as he accused critics of the massive economic stimulus plan of putting politics ahead of job creation.

    "There's going to be ample time for campaigns down the road," he said.

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry, one of the Southern Republican governors who have called the $787 billion plan too costly, said he heard nothing Monday to ease those concerns. He repeated his vow that Texas will reject any federal aid that locks the state into higher spending later.

    "If the market response to this so far is any indicator ... then we've got a ways to go," Perry said, hours before the stock market hit its lowest mark since 1997.

    Still, he agreed that Texas can find good ways to use the billions Congress is sending states for infrastructure projects and to close budget gaps.

    "The president wants to get this money turned around in a hurry. So do we," Perry said.

    Obama used the meeting with governors to reclaim control of the debate over the spending and tax-cut package, heaping praise on those who helped him pitch it to Congress and the public while acknowledging that "there are some very legitimate concerns."

    Texas is among the states that would have to expand unemployment coverage to part-time workers to take full advantage of stimulus funds. That could mean higher taxes after federal funds run out – a major talking point among critics.

    Obama said it's fine for governors to study such details but urged critics to put it into perspective: at $7 billion, coverage for part-time workers accounts for only a "fraction of the overall stimulus package."

    "If we agree on 90 percent of this stuff, and we're spending all our time on television arguing about 1, 2, 3 percent of the spending in this thing ... that starts sounding more like politics," Obama said.

    Perry agreed that there is much common ground. He said it would be "irresponsible" to turn down any funds for roads, for instance – particularly since Texas has long sent Washington more in highway tax revenues than it gets back.

    "We're looking at it line-item by line-item," Perry said, adding that Texas' relatively strong job market – the state accounted for about 80 percent of new U.S. jobs last year – makes up for less generous unemployment benefits.

    "People living in Texas are a heck of a lot better off than the vast majority of the other ones," he said. "My instinct is they'd whole lot rather have a good-paying job than they would unemployment insurance."

    The White House meeting underscored divisions among GOP governors.

    Obama didn't single out critics – the most outspoken have been Govs. Mark Sanford of South Carolina and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana – but he did go out of his way to praise those who have helped him pitch the stimulus package and get it through Congress quickly, among them California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.

    Obama also convened a "fiscal responsibility" summit Monday, inviting dozens of economists, executives, union leaders and lawmakers from both parties, including Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Rep. Joe Barton, R-Arlington.

    Barton, the senior Republican on the powerful energy and commerce committee, told Obama the meeting was a "good first step. But if this is all we do, it's a sterile step," because House Democratic leaders have run roughshod over his party.

    Obama called it an "important point" but offered little hint that he's inclined to pressure allies such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi to change their tactics.

    The White House also announced that states will get their first $15 billion from the stimulus by Wednesday in Medicaid funding to cover health care for the poor. Texas' share is $952 million.