Pawlenty and Nixon: Two More Govs. Who Hail the Stimulus
By Ed O'Keefe
While some Republican governors have far-ranging concerns about the stimulus package, Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) conceded today that few of them are going to be willing to leave federal assistance on the table.
Complaints about the package have focused largely on the three to four percent of the package devoted to unemployment insurance, Pawlenty told The Post in a joint interview with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) as the National Governor's Association winter meeting in the District wound up.
Still, there are plenty of programs in the overall package directed toward job creation and other issues that make it something worth swallowing, Pawlenty said. "We're not bashful about accepting our share of the money," Pawlenty said, adding later, "If you're paying the tab for the pizza, it's OK to have a slice even if there are some anchovies on it."
Nixon also expressed eagerness to start spending his state's share of the money and urged governors to look beyond their ideological differences. "Is this bill perfect? That's not the question. The question is how do we use this opportunity," he said.
Pawlenty expressed concern that the stimulus package failed to fulfill Obama's "promise of this new bipartisan era where the politics of division and of the past are going to be set aside."
"I think he chose for whatever reason not to put his foot down with the Congressional leaders and allowed them to, in my opinion, turn the stimulus bill at least in part into a meandering spending bill, and that resulted in most Republicans, including me, expressing concern and objection," he said.
Despite their differences, both governors said they will put their allotted funds towards job creation and retention.
"We're at a 25-year high in unemployment," Nixon said. "We want to use the tools that the Congress and the president have provided to get Missourians back to work."
Added Pawlenty: "That's what our citizens need most. That's their stabilizing influence for them, their families, our communities. In any way we can use this money to create and save jobs is the key and important focus."
Pawlenty and Nixon joined the nation's other chief executives earlier today at the White House for what both described as a frank and open exchange with President Obama on economic matters.
"He was extremely and open and transparent and gracious in the way he conducted the meeting," Pawlenty said. "It was helpful. Not everyone in the room obviously agrees, but I think they appreciate his style of saying, 'Look, let's hash this out and if we have some honest disagreements so be it, but let's hear each other out.'"
"I think the governors -- Democrats and Republicans -- understand we go back with a united mission to try to get people back to work. Some may go about that in different ways. We all have different ways we're going to do that," Nixon said.
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