WASHINGTON—Even as President Obama told the nation's mayors Friday that they now have a friend in the White House, he warned that he would use the "full power" of the presidency to expose and crack down on them if they misuse the stimulus dollars meant to boost the economy out of its doldrums.
The mayors, in turn, encouraged Obama to focus the stimulus on cities, where they said it would have the biggest impact. Giving state governments too much leeway with the funds could reduce the stimulus' effectiveness, they said.
Obama cautioned the mayors that Americans had placed their trust in political leaders to spend the $789 billion wisely and that trust would be squandered if officials wasted the money.
"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 told the mayors, who were gathered in the White House. "… if a local government does the same, I will call them out on it."
Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, who leads the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said he welcomed Obama's warning.
"Absolutely. We get called out every day at the local level," Diaz said. "We have plenty of constituents who will be doing that before the president does."