Newsom stimulus comments raise eyebrows


Newsom is the talk of the White House press room for comments he made that are all over the Internet now. The remarks are about the impact of the federal stimulus package that Newsom made last week at the San Francisco Chronicle's editorial board meeting.

His spokesman says Newsom's comments speak for themselves and that he's simply repeating what he's been saying for months.

"That is not something that I'm proud to say as a Democrat, it's not something I want to say, but it's true," Newsom said in a video clip circulating on YouTube.

The clip shows Newsom complaining about some aspects of the federal stimulus package.

"It's not wrong to criticize parts of that stimulus as disproportionately saving jobs in the public sector and not stimulating private sector economic growth," he said.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about the remarks at a briefing today.

"The first I heard about it was when you told me. So I don't take it that personal," he said.

Newsom's spokesman, Tony Winnicker, believes it is not so much the mayor criticizing what's been done in the public sector, as it is, in his words, highlighting how San Francisco has used the federal dollars to create private sector jobs with infrastructure projects including the Doyle Drive rebuild and Hunter's Point development.

Federal stimulus money has also paid the salaries of workers through a city program.

"The Jobs Now program, which is right now set to expire next week, which has put more than 4,000 out of work San Franciscans to work mostly in private sector jobs. So the mayor was focused on what our experience here in San Francisco [is], as a city and county, those stimulus programs that have really been most effective," Winnicker said.

Newsom is running for lieutenant governor. His Republican rival, Abel Maldonado, has his own concerns about the stimulus plan.

"It was sold to us as the silver bullet that was going to lower unemployment. It has not. Unemployment in California is still at 12.2 percent. But to be very, very fair, we don't know what the final outcome of the stimulus bill has done," Maldonado said.

Gibbs ran through a list of benefits he says California has received, but on both sides of the aisle, the lieutenant governor candidates are questioning if the federal stimulus funds have gone far enough.

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