February 23rd, 2009
01:30 PM ET
9 years ago

Obama vs. GOP govs: Tough talk over stimulus

President Obama had harsh words Monday for conservative critics of the $787 billion stimulus plan who have argued that the it contains needless pork barrel spending.

President Obama had harsh words Monday for conservative critics of the $787 billion stimulus plan who have argued that the it contains needless pork barrel spending.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama had harsh words Monday for conservative critics of the $787 billion stimulus plan who have argued that the it contains needless pork barrel spending.

"When I hear people who say, well, there's a lot of waste in this program, from my perspective at least, keeping teachers in the classroom is not wasteful," he argued.

"From my perspective, tax cuts to 95 percent of working families is not wasteful. From my perspective, providing all of you additional resources to rebuild roads and bridges and levees and dams ... that will enhance the quality of life of your state, but also make it more economically competitive. That's not wasteful."

President Obama made the comments during a meeting at the White House Monday morning the with the nation's governors, who are in the nation's capitol for an annual conference.

Some Republican governors, however, did not back off their criticism of the stimulus package.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-Louisiana, highlighted items such as $1 billion in added spending for the national census and $50 million in federal spending for the arts while speaking to reporters after the meeting.

It's "not apparent to me why they had to be in the stimulus package," said Jindal, who has been tapped to give the official Republican response to Obama's Tuesday night address to a joint session of Congress.

Jindal, seen as a possible contender for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, said his fellow Republican governors nevertheless wanted to give Obama "every opportunity" to succeed in sparking an economic recovery.

Though they support some federal action to help their states recover from the recession, several Republican governors have said they plan to turn down a portion of what's offered in the stimulus bill.

"If we were to take the unemployment reform package that they have, (for example,) it would cause us to raise taxes on employment when the money runs out - and the money will run out in a couple of years," Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.

The Republican governors of Idaho, Alaska, Texas, South Carolina and Louisiana have expressed similar concerns. Gov. Linda Lingle of Hawaii noted Monday that it's not unusual for some governors to choose to decline federal money in certain circumstances.

But one of their colleagues, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-California, disagreed sharply Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

When asked about broader complaints from South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford about the debt that the stimulus package will lead to, Schwarzenegger responded, "I am more than happy to take his money or (that of) any other governor in this country that doesn't want to take this money. I take it because I think California needs it." He added that he does not foresee a need for tax hike in the future to sustain the unemployment provisions.

In a separate interview on CNN's "State of the Union," Schwarzenegger said the complaints are "partially" right, but that using the money for now "cannot hurt."

Obama dismissed GOP concerns over costs tied an expansion of unemployment benefits, pointing out that those costs amount to only $7 billion in the $787 billion plan - "a fraction of the overall stimulus package."

"If we agree on 90 percent of the stuff and we're spending all our time on television arguing about 1 percent, 2 percent, 3 percent of the spending in this thing and somehow it's been characterized in broad brush as wasteful spending, that starts sounding more like politics, and that's what right now we don't have time to do," he said Monday.

Filed under: GOP • President Obama
soundoff (273 Responses)
  1. Franky

    "$250 million to Philipine sollldiers does not help us

    $300 million for condoms creates no jobs

    $30 million to save mice for pelosi is wasteful

    $8 billion for a train for Harry Reid is wasteful

    $300 million for a Italian junket is criminal

    A frisbee golf course is wasteful"

    (clap)...(clap)...(clap)...bravo here. Let me guess, had nothing to do?? I gotta say, if I would recommend, got some skills in there, huh? Maybe sooner or later spread the work of the lord instead of speaking...ohhh and here, i got something for the everything you said...

    1) Hmmm, Phillipine soldiers, huh? Guess what? Create jobs overseas! LOL!! Beautiful...

    2) Condoms, huh? Guess what? Business in the sack!! LOL!! Unless you ain';t like that, get something better..

    3) Mice, huh? Wait a minute, you don't like mice?? What do you got against them?? Just because Pelosi looks like one doesn't mean you gotta pick on her...

    4) Train, huh? So, you are telling me that a train ain't good? Ooopppps, sorry, only Harry, LOL!! I understand now...

    5) 300 million for the mob?? Well, China does business so is all good, LOL!!

    7) Frisbey gold course?!?!? Ohh hell yeah!!! LOL!!! You're damn right I wanna work there...and play! LOL!!!

    February 23, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  2. Shari, NY

    Again I ask – what about that $73 million "jail" built in Iraq (under Bush) to house detainees who are on the outside roaring with laughter at this white elephant? CNN, enlighten me with a follow-up story please!

    February 23, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    @ Steph

    Actually, I wouldn't be suprised if the public tracking of where the money goes and how it gets used is partly why some of these GOP governors don't want to take any. Wouldn't want big brother fining out about your dirty secrets if you were planning to run in 2012, now would you?

    February 23, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  4. AD

    "is Fox the only network allowed to give both sides of a story?"

    You...you're kidding, right?


    February 23, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  5. Andi

    those that are talking about the stock market falling because of Obama – look back a few months. Remember, back when King George was in office? Every time he did or said anything, the markets also tanked.

    And for that matter, I don't think the stock market should be used as a measuring stick for EVERYTHING – aren't these guys the ones that screwed us in the first place? Of course the market is doing poorly! The investment bankers are crying in their Perrier because their bonuses were cut. booo hoooooo for yoooooo

    February 23, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    @ anti-wingnuts

    Black, white, red, brown, yellow or whatever: stupid helps nobody.

    February 23, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  7. xylon

    You mean GOP is not about the people but the party?

    ok, will never move over to their party!

    February 23, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  8. irish

    I see all the liberals are still having a love affair with Obama.
    He is a liar, there is plenty of pork in that bill. I guess if he says it enough times the sheeple will beleive it. Go ahead CNN don't post this. Because 90% of posts are liberals posts. You can't stand to have the truth exposed about the "the one". Every single Liberal/Democrae is worthless. They only know one thing. Spend our hard earned money. I hope every single one that voted for this no experience, junior senator gets exactly what is coming to them. He will ruin this country along with his liberal sheeple. Unfortunately you will bring us down with you. I have never read a liberal post that was based in facts, or was even remotely intelligent. Go praise your savior and stand in line for your welfare check. I'm so glad the men in my family fought in almost every war for your freedoms so you can trample all over our constitution. Now go back to all your liberal proffessors and let them teach you how to hate America. You unpatriotic slobs.

    February 23, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  9. Oregon

    Here’s a tax lesson for everybody who says “we’re giving tax breaks to people who don’t pay taxes.”

    First, there are several types of taxes. Income tax is just one. And true, some people (Democrats and Republican) don’t make enough at their jobs to pay income tax.
    BUT – and listen closely now – everyone who has a job pays Payroll taxes: Medicare and FICA taxes. Those are the taxes that are going to be cut for 95% of working Americans. Do you know that people earning over $93,000 (or thereabouts) do not pay payroll taxes? Obama wants them to pay their fair share too. He wants to give a break to working people making under $93,000.

    February 23, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  10. fred

    Obama, who pays for the money in the stimulus? We do. You can't increase spending and give tax cuts. That doesn't work. Either you give tax cuts and lower spending, or increase spending and raise taxes. This is why Obama's bill won't work. You can't increase spending and give tax cuts. That = inflation = larger deficit = invest in gold and silver if you want to not lose money in the stock market.

    February 23, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  11. RJ

    Waste is waste. Even Obama admitted it.
    Calling the $7 billion in dispute as only a fraction is an insult. It's still the TAXPAYERS money.
    $7 billion may not seem like a lot of money to him, but it's a place to start.
    Trim the "fractions" off and only spend WHERE IT IS NEEDED.

    February 23, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  12. Reality Check

    Interesting photo to go along with the story... hope he knows how to keep his fingers in check after giving Hillary the bird!

    February 23, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  13. dimes

    Don't forget that Obama is experienced only in giving speeches.

    Obama is so far over his head that he will keep screwing up by passing bad and costly legislation backed by a ignorant and arrogant congress lead by the great Pelosi that can do whatever they want without debate.

    Imagine passing an 800 Billion stimulus package that not one legislator read (The 1000 page bill was distributed to legislators only two hours prior to the vote). Did America proud on that one did you Obama!

    When this all plays out you will be exposed as the weak inexperienced blow hard you are. And all of you winy Democratic lummox you are the problem not the solution. A few years when this all plays out you will be gone and the true party of the people will have to pick up the pieces.

    February 23, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  14. irish

    KATIEC, How are the Republican the minority? Maybe in goverment, but not in the country. Obama did not win by a landslide. Get it through your head. Still 50% of the people did not vote for him. Only the one's that were blind and didn't care about his dirty past. They just wanted to make history. That's a great reason to vote someone into the highest office in land. That's how stupid the liberals are. They care more about making history then caring about the issue's at hand.

    February 23, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  15. Ed Tallahassee FL

    It's all talk. I'll believe it when I see them actually turn down the money.

    February 23, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  16. Dave

    The operative words here are "from my perspective".

    Yes, for a liberal, Democratic President with a socialist bias based on his years as a community organizer and the insulation that a solid seven figure income from his book sales gives him, it's easy to have the perspective that spending other people's money to redistribute the wealth isn't wasteful.

    I remember the sound bites from a woman after one of President Obama's campaign speeches who opined that she wouldn't have to worry after he was elected about her mortgage or car loan payments. Seems pretty prophetic now.

    February 23, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  17. AEJ - Miami

    The Republicans can't wait for our preseident to fail. They are in for a BIG surprise when the economy starts turning around.

    Why isn't Geroge Bush and Dick Chiney and these Repubs who put the American people – NOT IN JAIL for what they have done to the American people?????

    February 23, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  18. Living in the Heartland..

    no, the most ignorant president ever was George W. Bush, the man who got us into this mess by waging war and turning a blind eye to Wall Street corruption. (let's not even mention Dick Cheney)

    President Obama is working very hard to get us out of the mess.
    I have a news flash for anyone who is against his efforts:
    All the efforts of the past have FAILED. You are working against him because you are afraid that his efforts actually WORK.

    Don't try to act like you know the solution, or that new ideas (whether they be spending or investing in education) are stupid. Even economists don't know how to heal the broken economy. If they did, then we wouldn't be in this mess now.

    And just because you don't agree with new ideas doesn't mean you're right and you have the answers. HEY, if you just shut up and sit back, maybe you'll discover that some NEW IDEAS might actually work.

    Maybe you are afraid of success.

    February 23, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  19. Veteran in Kansas

    Time for discussion is over, if the GOP had its chance, for the past eight years the GOP had its chance. THe Gop had its chance to mo;d the stimulus bill. Today we do not need a bunch of GOP cry babies bashing the package and trying to critize it at every stop. We need natiuonal leaders united and pushing together, if they can not then they need not consider themselves national leaders.Partisan politics and crying overspilled milk is not going to get the economy moving, nor are the failed trickle down economics, nor is a unfunded 8 year old war.

    I are a republican, was a republican, now I will say that I am an American. Get with the program and get the nations economy moving.

    February 23, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  20. miriah

    Quite frankly I don'y even care about the money we are supposed to get... I'am married to an illegal immagrant and didn't qualify for it last year.. probably the same thing this year...oh well

    February 23, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  21. Sharon - NC

    'Needless pork barrell spending', or' wasteful spending', is any amount the government spends on anything that the GOP doesn't believe in (whether or not it is good for the taxpayers – their employers) or doesn't directly benefit the GOP or their special interests. It's amazing that the GOP jumped all over themselves to pass the Wall Street bailout (with McCain actually leaving his campaign to push for it), but they want to spend months and months fighting a bill ('in order to get it right'. Right.) that we need right now that may ultimately help this country.

    February 23, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    @ Is it 2013 yet, who said "...is Fox the only network allowed to give both sides of a story?"


    February 23, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  23. yuri

    GOP gov.s are gettin' generous counsels from their party congressional caucus, we learn, perhaps? A few govs are willing to accept their part of the package, without voicin' their concerns. What we do not see is the reluctance of other govs to let the stimulus money meander thru their territories. Party loyalty, we surmise.

    February 23, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
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