Biden nixes pet projects in stimulus bill

December 23, 2008 2:11:39 PM PST
Vice President-elect Joe Biden said Tuesday that people expecting a bounty of pet projects in a new, massive multibillion-dollar economic stimulus plan should think again. "It's important for the American taxpayer to know that this is not going to be politics as usual and we will not tolerate business as usual in Washington," Biden said at the start of a meeting of Obama's top economic staff at transition headquarters.

"I know it's Christmas, and I know it's the Christmas season," he said, "but President-elect Obama and I are absolutely, absolutely determined that this economic recovery plan will not become a Christmas tree."

Biden said "there will be no earmarks" in the proposal - referring to the sort of special-interest projects that members of Congress often attach to various pieces of legislation.

The goal had been for the incoming White House and the Democratic-councement on the actual package is some time off. The meeting was chaired by Biden in Obama's absence, and included Summers as well as Obama domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes, along with Carol Browner, who will head a new White House office on energy, and other incoming aides.

A chief focus was the message that the Obama administration promises to be a careful steward of the money.

Biden and Summers stressed that the money will be spent only on worthwhile efforts: to create jobs in the short-term but also to lay the groundwork for future prosperity.

Biden said that "every dollar will be watched" to see it is spent effectively, that only what is needed to turn the economy around will be spent "and no more" and that "make-work" projects will not be allowed.

Also Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., held a conference call with Democratic governors on the need for the package to include relief for cash-strapped state budgets. Those on the call included the governors of Michigan, New Jersey, Wisconsin and Massachusetts, said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Reid.