Is Funding Long-Term Studies a 'Stimulus'? Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood Responds

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," April 13, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST: Now, moving on, President Obama touting his stimulus plan today. He says the waste is being watched. But is a report out of Ohio putting that statement to the test. $57 million in stimulus cash is slated to be spent on studies, not projects, that won't create jobs for years. Does that count as stimulus?

Transportation Secretary Raymond LaHood is overseeing many of these projects, and he joins me now.

Mr. Secretary, thanks very much for being with us.

I'm not trying to...


VARNEY: ... I'm not trying to pick on nits here, but there is $57 million in Ohio that's going to studies of something. That's not exactly fixing infrastructure that's crumbling and doing it now, boots on the ground, job creation right now, is it?

LAHOOD: Well, look it, we were privileged to be with the president today at DOT, where we announced over 2,000 projects are funded, millions of dollars — billions of dollars out the door. There will be hundreds of thousands of people working this summer, building the infrastructure, rebuilding the infrastructure of America.

We're doing our job with the state DOTs. And an enormous number of people are going to be working in good-paying jobs.

And the announcement today is really the idea that in a very quick way we have a lot of money out the door, ready to fund these projects.

VARNEY: Can you tell them what to do? Can you — if you see something like this in Ohio, $57 million — and, again, I don't mean to pick on little, tiny elements, but $57 million is $57 million — are you in a position to say to the Department of Transportation in Ohio, "Hey, come on. Let's not — let's not mess around with government money like this. Get on with it and spend it. Do something. Create jobs now." Can you do that?

LAHOOD: Look it, Stuart, we have an obligation to make sure this money is spent correctly. There's a Web site called All people have to do is look on there to see how the money is being spent.

If there's an issue with some program in Ohio, I guarantee I will be on the telephone this afternoon making sure that money is being spent correctly.

I want the American people to know that their hard-earned dollars are being spent correctly. And we are going to spend this money so that people can go to work this summer, build the infrastructure of our country, build roads and bridges.

And we've already put a lot of money out there. And it will be spent the proper way. I guarantee you that.

VARNEY: Mr. Secretary, I'm just hearing that President Obama is urging the airlines to regularly schedule flights from the U.S. mainland to Cuba.

You're the transportation secretary. Any comment on that?

LAHOOD: Well, look it, I'm really here to talk about the enormous amount of work that we've been doing with the states. I will leave the Cuba policy to others.

But I'm really pleased that our department has worked very, very hard to make sure that our part of the recovery plan works as well as I think it can work in terms in putting people to work in good-paying jobs.

And we'll deal with some of these other issues as — as we have to deal with them.

VARNEY: We got it.

Mr. Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, thanks for joining us, sir. Appreciate it.

LAHOOD: Thank you, Stuart.

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