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Use stimulus wisely, Obama tells mayors

Miami Mayor Manuel Diaz, center, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, stands with conference members Friday outside the White House after meeting with President Obama.

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Miami Mayor Manuel Diaz, center, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, stands with conference members Friday outside the White House after meeting with President Obama.

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."

Governors may say no to the stimulus

A handful of Republican governors who opposed the federal stimulus say they may reject portions of the money. Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana said Friday he would reject a portion of expanded unemployment benefits that would eventually require the state to raise taxes on businesses. The governors of Alaska, Idaho, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas have said their states may not want to meet conditions that accompany the money or expand programs that will have to be paid for by the state once the stimulus runs out.

Use stimulus wisely, Obama tells mayors 02/20/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 20, 2009 10:11pm]

    

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