Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood told The Daily Caller that he is “very proud” of the Economic Recovery Act of 2009 that put 65,000 people to work with $48 billion in federal funds for the Department of Transportation, amounting to $738,461 per job.
The Recovery Act of 2009, which in total cost taxpayers $825 billion, has been criticized because it did not prevent the unemployment rate from rising above 8 percent, contrary to what the Obama administration predicted.
“Yeah, we spent $48 billion and we put 65,000 people to work in 15,000 projects in two years with no problems,” LaHood told The Daily Caller in a video interview in Alexandria, Va., on Friday. “I’m very proud of that. I know that the governors can spend this money because over two years we gave them $48 billion, they created 65,000 jobs in 15,000 projects. This is doable. We’re going to get the money out and get people to work.”
TheDC also asked LaHood about the Obama administration’s decision to send an additional $473 million in unspent earmarks to states.
“You know what? These are old earmarks. There are earmarks that were set aside by members of Congress going back several years,” LaHood said. “We’re in the no earmark era. There are no more earmarks. This money needs to be spent because we need to get people to work.”
“We’re going to send this money back to the governors and say, ‘put people to work now, during the construction season. Build the roads, build the bridges, build these projects’ and let us know how you’re going to spend the money so we’re sending an e-mail out to governors all over the country and we’re saying to them, this is money that was earmarked for a project, spend it now, get people to work and get this project finished.”
LaHood, a former Republican congressman, told TheDC that he wants to see the federal funds put toward projects on the state level where people can go to work right away.
“I want to see projects where people can go to work now. We know that this money was allocated to roads and bridges and other projects and we’re going to send it back,” he said. “My goal, which is the president’s goal, is let’s get people to work.”