This morning, President Obama addressed members of the National Governors Association, focusing his remarks on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. During the speech, Obama specifically took aim at the GOP governors who have said that they will reject some of the package’s funding, hinting at the fact that many of them seem to have put their political ambitions over the needs of their states:
OBAMA: I just want us to not lose perspective of the fact that most of the things that have been the topic of argument over the last several days amount to a fraction of the overall stimulus package. This sometimes gets lost in the cable chatter. [...]
And so, if we agree on 90 percent of this stuff, and we’re spending all our time on television arguing about 1, 2, 3 percent of the spending in this thing, and somehow it’s being 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. [...]
What I don’t want us to do, though, is to just get caught up in the same old stuff that inhibits us from acting effectively and in concert. There’s going to be ample time for campaigns down the road.
Obama also went after criticisms about funding for unemployment insurance. Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), for example, turned away nearly $100 million in federal aid for his state’s unemployed residents. The Emergency Unemployment Compensation alone would have benefited 24,981 Louisiana residents. Jindal justified his decision by claiming that expanding unemployment benefits would result in tax increases for businesses. From Obama’s remarks:
For example, I think there are some very legitimate concerns on the part of some about the sustainability of expanding unemployment insurance. What hasn’t been noted is is that that is $7 billion of a $787 billion program. And it’s not even the majority of the expansion of unemployment insurance.
So it is possible for those who are concerned about sustaining a change that increases eligibility for part-time workers to still see the benefit of $30 billion-plus that is going — even if you don’t make the change.
The White House pool report noted that during his comments about the “cable chatter,” Obama looked directly “towards Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford, who were to his right.” Other Republican governors who have said they may turn down some recovery funds: Butch Otter (ID), Sarah Palin (AK), Sonny Perdue (GA), Rick Perry (TX), and Bob Riley (AL).