Biden on the Record: Recovery and Reinvestment Act Implementation Conference

A little hint: No swimming pools in this money; a few other things.

So it really is important — I know you know it better than we do, because you’re there, you’re the ones that are facing these high unemployment rates. Some of your states, some of the poorer states in the nation have the highest unemployment rate, and some wealthy states have even higher unemployment rates. This is a crisis. This is a crisis. And I know you feel as I do, that it requires a exercise of discipline and accountability and transparency like nothing we have ever done in terms of federal-state relations. And I am not kidding about that — and I know you’re not either — but this is a big deal. The work you’re doing is going to be critical to the economic well-being of the country.

Let me point out one other thing. If we don’t get this right, folks, this is the end of the opportunity to convince the Congress that anything should go to the states. Your state legislatures are struggling. Your governors are struggling. The members of the House and Senate are struggling. They don’t want to take up one another’s burden. Everyone in this room, I hope you are, in the best sense of the word, good politicians, as well as having very sharp pencils. So I hope you’ll understand the dynamic at play here.

So if this — six months from now, if the verdict on this effort is that we’ve wasted the money, we built things that were unnecessary, or we’ve done things that are legal but make no sense, then, folks, don’t look for any help from the federal government for a long while. They’re going to make sure — the folks in the House and in the Senate are going to make sure you wear the jacket, not them.

This is a big deal — this is a big deal. It’s also being closely watched not just by me, but by the President, and by Mr. Devaney, who is one of the most respected IGs we have in the federal government, and is known by many of you. And it’s also being watched by the taxpayers and it’s being watched by the media.

And that’s a good thing — that’s a good thing, because the resources being made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are a critical piece — a critical piece of how we’re going to get through this economic crisis, and just as importantly, how we’re going to build the economy of the future, which the Secretary referenced.

This is not just an opportunity to help us get out of this mess we’re in, but it’s an opportunity to begin to lay the foundation for a competitive America in the 21st century. That’s something we can never lose sight of. Everyone in this room is has a huge responsibility. We all have the responsibility to make sure this legislation is implemented with maximum efficiency. And we have the responsibility to make sure there’s unprecedented transparency

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