"To you, he's Mr. Vice President," President Obama said at the Department of Transportation this morning. "But around the White House we call him ‘The Sheriff’ because if you're misusing taxpayer money, you'll have to answer to him." That remark brought peals of laughter in the president's rah-rah address before approximately 600 DOT employees, where he was joined by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and "Sheriff" Biden. The president also took a moment to note that today the Treasury and the Federal Reserve are launching the Consumer and Business Lending Initiative, which he said, "when fully implemented will generate up to a trillion dollars of new lending for the American people. And this will help unlock our frozen credit markets, which is absolutely essential for economic recovery." Mr. Obama also took some time to herald the transportation infrastructure projects that the stimulus package would fund, $28 billion for highway projects, for instance, "money that every one of our 50 states can start using immediately to put people back to work....Fourteen days after I signed our Recovery Act into law, we are seeing shovels hit the ground." LaHood has announced that "the work begins today in Montgomery County, Maryland, where a work crew is starting on a project to resurface Maryland State Highway 650, a very busy road that has...not been fully repaired in 17 years. The contract for which this first project is being awarded is to American Infrastructure, a family-owned business. This will support 60 good jobs. And that's how we're going to get the country back on its feet."
The President mentioned that project and said that "more then 100 other people will begin receiving funds today as well" and "over the next few weeks, we will launch more then 200 construction projects across this country, fueling growth in an industry that's been hard hit by our economic crisis." This would "create or save 150,000 jobs by the end of next year, most of them in the private sector," the president said, "more jobs being created or saved in one year than G.M., Ford and Chrysler have lost in manufacturing over the past three years combined." -- Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller