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Biden Fires Back At Stimulus Critics

Vice President Biden took the administration's message straight to the home turf of an outspoken critic of the stimulus act, Republican Rep. Eric Cantor.
Vice President Biden took the administration's message straight to the home turf of an outspoken critic of the stimulus act, Republican Rep. Eric Cantor. (By Steve Helber -- Associated Press)

Press secretary Robert Gibbs, who skipped the president's trip to New Jersey and New York to conduct the briefings, accused critics of the president's stimulus plan of misleading the public.

"People have been allowed to get away with . . . making statements that they knew weren't factual," he said. "Washington games are still being played with the truth."

Biden yesterday used stimulus spending examples from Cantor's own district to attempt to undermine the Republican's attacks. The White House hopes to make an example of Cantor, accusing him of being on both sides of the stimulus issue.

Biden announced that $1.59 million of stimulus money would flow to Richmond, which would allow its police department to retain officers. And he noted that close to $20 million in stimulus money went to Chesterfield County, a suburb of Richmond, to keep 275 teachers from being fired by the school district.

Cantor made himself a target of White House ire last week when he delivered the Republican Party's weekly radio address. In it, he called the stimulus package a "bill full of pork barrel spending, government waste and massive borrowing cleverly called 'stimulus' " and said, "Obama's economic decisions have not produced jobs, have not produced prosperity and simply have not worked."

Although Cantor has been outspoken in his criticism of the stimulus act as wasteful and ineffective, he recently joined his congressional colleagues in urging the Virginia Department of Transportation to apply for stimulus money for high-speed rail.

Biden mocked that position last night, saying: "The very guys who are saying this is a terrible act want me to make sure you get high-speed rail. Isn't that kind of funny?"

Yesterday, Cantor said that his constituents "overwhelmingly" supported the rail line between Richmond and Washington, but added: "Despite my heartfelt support for high-speed rail, the merit of this one project does not excuse the thousands of others that do not create jobs."

In advance of Biden's speech, Cantor added that "where I'm looking is where families of Virginia and America are looking and that's at the unemployment rate, which is skyrocketing. The reality is that people are losing their jobs. Families are going into economic free fall."

That argument was echoed by Virginia's Republican gubernatorial candidate, Bob McDonnell, who has made his opposition to the federal stimulus act a key part of his campaign against Democrat R. Creigh Deeds.

"Virginians are hurting and the unemployment rate is climbing months after the stimulus bill went into effect," his campaign said in a statement after Biden's visit to Virginia.

Deeds, who stood with Biden at the event and was to join him at a fundraiser last night, has criticized McDonnell for opposing the use of $125 million in stimulus money to enhance state unemployment benefits.

Staff writer Amy Gardner contributed to this report.

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