By Sam Youngman - 09/24/09 11:16 PM EDT
Vice President Joe Biden told the nation's governors Thursday that if the $787 billion stimulus fails, "I'm dead."
Biden, who holds regular calls with governors and mayors to chart the progress of the stimulus package, said he was pushing accountability standards purely out of "self-interest."
Biden held the conference call with almost all the governors -- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) did not participate -- to encourage them to make the Oct. 15 deadline for reporting the number of jobs created and saved by the stimulus package.
With his trademark folksy candor, which has been known to give the White House and his political advisers fits, Biden said the stimulus is working and "knock on wood," it will continue to work.
"In my wildest dreams, I never thought it would work this well," Biden said.
But the vice president acknowledged the political consequences of ensuring the hotly debated legislation succeeds.
The vice president said the reporting procedures were necessary to "provide the public with more information on how their tax dollars are being used."
Biden said the reporting is a "burden" on the governors and a "massive undertaking," but he added "we've all got to sink or swim together."
Biden promised to assist the governors with any help they needed in understanding the guidelines and rules for reporting, and he said his office would help by clarifying the different reports coming from the federal and state levels.
Biden said press briefings would "take the heat off you guys" as they explain the difference between jobs created or saved by projects and activities at the state level and those attributed to other federal actions.
"We’re trying our best, guys, to make sure everyone knows it’s apples and oranges," Biden said.