Obama, Biden on the Record: National Conference of State Legislatures

Remarks by the Vice President and the President to Representatives of the National Conference of State Legislatures

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for being here today. When the President signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, he made it clear to the American people that we’re — he made it clear to everybody that they’re counting on us. They’re counting on us to get this right. And that’s a tremendous responsibility –- and it extends, quite frankly, to everybody in this room, not just the two of us.

You’re on the front lines to making sure that these resources are well spent. And you see every day, close up, even more than we do, how this economy is affecting so many people and how many critical needs have to be met. And so the folks who are struggling are your friends, they’re your neighbors, they’re your constituents. And you see it in your schools, you see it in your grocery stores, you see it in the ball fields, your churches, your communities. It’s real. And we can’t let them down. We simply can’t let them down.

That’s why we’ve said that these resources must be moved out the door not only with record speed, but with transparency and full accountability. There is the letter of the law, and then there is the spirit of the law. And we intend to make sure the spirit of the law is what’s actually followed here, in addition to the letter.

The President has made it very clear: We believe this money is being — if we believe this money is being misused — and he’s asked me to take some specific responsibility — to actually call it out, make it clear — us to make it clear it’s being misused. That’s why we have one of the tougher inspector generals that I’ve ever served with in my years in the government, Earl Devaney, who is overseeing these dollars. And it’s part of the task the President has assigned me.

So let there be no doubt about it. We will take a spotlight and a bullhorn to anything we don’t believe is fulfilling the purpose of this legislation: investing in jobs, bringing us out of this economic doldrum we find ourselves in, and laying a foundation for future economic growth. So, together, let’s meet this tremendous responsibility. It’s up to everyone in this room to get it done.

We’ve had a similar conversation, not just with the state legislators — and you’re all leaders in your state legislative bodies — but with the mayors, with the governors, with the country executives, with NACo.

We are all counting on you, and them, to display the leadership this nation needs to get us through one of the toughest economic crises we’ve ever faced. And only with your help we’re going to be able to secure a better future for every state, every district, every community, every family in this country.

We will succeed, but will only succeed with your leadership, and with the leadership of the President

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