Economy

Obama discusses stimulus plan in California

As he voiced outrage over bonuses paid to executives of a giant insurance firm propped up by taxpayer-funded bailouts, President Barack Obama assured Californians on Wednesday that they won't be left behind in efforts to turn around the economy.

Before an enthusiastic throng at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, Obama delivered a populist message. He called for helping teachers, strengthening unions and coming to the aid of thousands of distressed California homeowners. But the president said he also can't afford to let America's major banks and financial institutions fail.

Addressing the anger of Americans over $165 million in bonuses paid to executives at the failed American International Group Inc., which received $80 billion in bailout money, Obama said: "I'm outraged, too. ... It goes against our most basic sense of what is fair. ... It offends our values."

Touting California's benefits in the stimulus package, Obama said it will bring a new military hospital at Camp Pendleton, new police officers in Inglewood and freeway improvements in Orange County.

But in taking questions, Obama found himself offering solace to a Santa Ana teacher, who told him she had just received a layoff notice.

"We're talking about quality teachers being laid off," she told the president. "How are we going to be sure that money comes to the districts that need it the most?"

Obama said a major part of the stimulus is directed to fixing schools and keeping teachers on the job.

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