Those were President Obama's words at the beginning of yesterday's Cabinet meeting on expediting stimulus spending even further.
Since I was still enroute from Lebanon where I helped monitor the recent elections, Deputy Secretary John Porcari was on hand to represent the DOT’s ongoing efforts to get stimulus funds into the economy.
Some reports have suggested that stimulus funds are not flowing as fast as claimed. That’s simply not true. These reports misunderstand where in the funding process job creation and purchases of materials and equipment occur.
In short, they overlook the moment when stimulus actually happens. It happens as soon as we make funds available to states, territories, and transit agencies.
I've said it before, but it needs to be said again:
That is economic stimulus, and all of that activity occurs before states have been reimbursed by DOT. When the states come back to DOT for reimbursement, then and only then do the funds we've made available become outlays.
But, by that time those funds have already been hard at work stimulating the American economy.
As of last week, we had made available $15.7 billion--nearly one-third of our American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds--to 4,391 projects.
Moreover, within the first 100 days of the program, the DOT made recovery funds available at nearly twice the rate as we do for some of our normal programs.
By September 1, 2009, for example, over $3 billion in transit grants will be obligated. Over a third of these funds will be used to purchase over 4,000 transit vehicles. The remainder of the funds will aid the construction or rehabilitation of transit facilities, such as bus shelters and maintenance facilities, and provide needed support for maintenance costs to keep transit systems moving people effectively.
Call it what you want, but when you look at the amounts we've made available to the states and territories, you'll be looking at economic stimulus.