Meeting with business leaders and chief executives this afternoon, President Obama hailed his stimulus plan and budget as an investment "that will lead to tomorrow's prosperity."
"You see, we cannot go back to endless cycles of bubble and bust," Obama said at the Business Roundtable. "We can't continue to base our economy on reckless speculation and spending beyond our means; on bad credit and inflated home prices and overleveraged banks."
Dubbing the roller-coaster economy of the past decade or so the illusion of prosperity, the president said the fix lies in the hundreds of billions of dollars in stimulus money he has pushed on infrastructure, energy, education and health care, and that his budget will also restore stability.
"I am not choosing to address these additional challenges just because I feel like it, or because I'm a glutton for punishment," he said. "I am doing so because they are fundamental to our economic growth, and to ensuring that we don't have more crises like this in the future. ... I didn't come here to pass our problems on to the next president or the next generation, I'm here to solve them."
Part of that rests on the success of the $787 billion stimulus package. Earlier today, Vice President Joe Biden took a strong tone against wasteful projects in the stimulus money going to states. Nearly $8 billion of the stimulus money will start going to state and local governments, with $780 million being released in the next few days.
"This is not your usual federal grant going to the states," Biden said. "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."
Supporters of the president's stimulus plan, such as Tony Anaya -- the point person for New Mexico's stimulus money -- said that getting this money to create jobs is far easier said than done.
Helping or Hurting States?
"There are a lot of details, the process can be cumbersome," he said. "We suspect we'll see a flattening of that process because they understand the importance of it."
But he stressed the need to get the money out quickly.
"Our states are suffering, our people are suffering, people are unemployed, people are losing their home," he said. "We've got to get the money out quickly and we feel very comfortable we're going to be able to do that."
Even some critics have come on board. Today, Texas Gov. Rick Perry -- an outspoken critic of the president's plan -- said he will accept most of the $17 billion allocated to his state, but rejected the $555 million in unemployment benefits because it may increase the tax burden on businesses.
Some are not so keen.
South Carolina Republican Gov. Mark Sanford plans to reject the $700 million in funds due to his state, if he is not granted a waiver to use them to pay down state debt rather than to fund government programs.
Other Republican critics are predicting failure.
"When you shovel that much money out the door in that short amount of time, that is a recipe for waste, fraud and abuse," said John Thune, R-S.D.
The president addressed such criticism Wednesday in an interview with regional reporters, saying that his opponents need to do more than say "no" to his plans.
"Opposition is always easy," he said. "Saying 'no' to something is easy. Saying 'yes' to something and figuring out how to solve problems and governing, that's hard."
Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs chimed in with that same sentiment today.
"I do think you've heard, certainly, recently a lot more criticism than you've heard suggestions," he said.
Republican Rep. John Boehner of Ohio responded to that by saying that their ideas have been ignored.
"All those who are at the White House suggesting that we're the party of 'no,' we have offered our ideas," the House minority leader said. "The president, frankly, made very encouraging comments about our proposal. And, yet, all of those ideas were ignored when the stimulus bill was put together."
Another Stimulus Plan in the Offing?
Despite Republican opposition, there are already talks of a second stimulus plan, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., pushed back on the idea that one may be pending, saying she'd like to see this first stimulus package play out first.
"You don't ever close the door to being prepared for whatever eventually may come, but I think that is not a near, near thing," she said.