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Obama vows wise use of stimulus cash

US President Barack Obama vowed strict oversight of his US$787 billion stimulus plan on Friday, pushing back against Republicans who have labeled the centerpiece of his economic agenda fiscally irresponsible.

Obama said he would name a team of managers to ensure that billions of dollars slated for infrastructure projects would be spent wisely.

"The American people are watching. They need this plan to work," Obama said at a gathering at the White House with dozens of the nation's mayors.

"And they expect to see the money they worked so hard to earn spent in its intended purpose without waste, inefficiency or fraud."

After taking office last month amid a deepening recession, Obama made his top priority the passage of the stimulus plan. He said the measure was crucial to jump-start growth and prevent the unemployment rate from surging into double digits.

The signing this week of the bill - the most expensive in history - marked a big victory for Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress.

Republicans, most of whom refused to support the stimulus plan, criticized the bill as laden with wasteful spending and said it would do little to revive the economy.

Obama and other Democrats have bristled at Republican attempts to characterize their plans as fiscally irresponsible. They note the federal budget shifted from surplus to huge deficits during former Republican President George W. Bush's administration. Republicans controlled Congress during much of the Bush administration.

The bill also includes tax cuts and spending to bolster welfare programs such as unemployment insurance.

Obama said the plan would create jobs and put the economy on a sounder long-term footing through spending on infrastructure such as roads, bridges and mass transit.


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