WASHINGTON – Gov. Martin O’Malley, along with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, joined Vice President Joe Biden Friday to announce that federal stimulus funds had directly created or saved 640,239 jobs nationwide since Feb. 17.
“The recovery act is operating as advertised,” Biden said.
The event, held in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, came one day after O’Malley announced that the federal stimulus had led directly to more than 4,464 jobs in Maryland, with roughly 10,000 additional jobs resulting either from indirect jobs, which are often subcontractors for highway projects, or induced jobs, which are created by consumers spending money at restaurants and stores.
Along the same lines, Biden said the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has overall created more than one million jobs, a figure that combines the almost 650,000 in direct jobs and an estimated 400,000 in indirect jobs.
In his speech, Biden thanked both governors for their efforts to distribute the funds effectively.
“These guys represent all that is right about the recovery act,” Biden said.
During his brief remarks, O’Malley again emphasized the necessary role that transparency should play in distributing stimulus dollars, praising the Obama administration for its focus on openness.
“Make no mistake about it,” O’Malley said. “It takes political courage to measure performance and do it openly, do it transparently.”
Biden as well praised O’Malley for how Maryland has been a leader in sharing information about the stimulus openly with the public.
“We’re trying to catch up with O’Malley’s model,” Biden said. “Literally. I’m serious.”
While all three lauded the successes of the stimulus — including the announcement Thursday that the gross domestic product rose 3.5 percent in the third quarter — they each empathized with the millions of Americans hurt by the recession.
Tens of millions remain unemployed. And in a sign that the recovery is not complete, the stock market dropped 250 points on Friday amid concerns about consumer spending.
“When you’re out of work, GDP doesn’t mean anything to you,” Biden said.
They also sought to answer criticisms about the stimulus package. Biden, for one, addressed concerns that stimulus funds would go toward wasteful pet projects.
“Thank God, that dog hasn’t bitten yet,” Biden said.
Schwarzenegger pointed comments toward his own party, particularly those who have criticized the stimulus package along partisan lines.
“It’s not a Democratic or Republican issue,” Schwarzenegger said. “It’s a people issue. It’s a jobs issue.”
Biden invited the public to visit the stimulus Web site, www.recovery.gov, to track exactly where stimulus projects were underway in their area.
Shortly after the event, Schwarzenegger joked with the audience that lunch would be held next door with an offering of “wiener schnitzel and beer.”