(WASHINGTON) — As the federal government comes back to life, President Obama on Thursday morning lamented the harm caused by the political “spectacle,” saying the 16-day shutdown and the threat of default “inflicted completely unnecessary damage on our economy.”
“The American people are completely fed up with Washington,” the president said in a statement at the White House. “At a moment when our economic recovery demands more jobs, more momentum, we’ve got yet another self-inflicted crisis that set our economy back. And for what?”
The president repeatedly took stabs at the House Republicans who used the shutdown and threat of default to try and extract political concessions.
“Some of the same folks who pushed for the shutdown and threatened default claim their actions were needed to get America back on the right track, to make sure we’re strong,” he said. “But probably nothing has done more damage to America’s credibility in the world, our standing with other countries, than the spectacle that we’ve seen these past several weeks. It’s encouraged our enemies, it’s emboldened our competitors, and it’s depressed our friends, who look to us for steady leadership.”
Going forward the president was adamant that “how business is done in this town has to change,” as he sought to reassure Americans and the nation’s creditors that “the full faith and credit of the United States remains unquestioned.”
“Let’s work together to make government work better instead of treating it like an enemy or purposely making it work worse. That’s not what the founders of this nation envisioned when they gave us the gift of self-government. You don’t like a particular policy or a particular president? Then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election. Push to change it. But don’t break it,” he said. “Don’t break what our predecessors spent over two centuries building. That’s not being faithful to what this country’s about.”
Over the coming months the president said he would be pushing action on three priorities: the budget, immigration reform and a farm bill. “Those are three specific things that would make a huge difference in our economy right now, and we could get them done by the end of the year — if our focus is on what’s good for the American people. And that’s just the big stuff,” he said.
Facing an audience of staff who worked overtime during the shutdown, the president thanked “the dedicated and patriotic federal workers who’ve either worked without pay or have been forced off the job without pay these past few weeks, including most of my own staff: Thank you. Thanks for your service. Welcome back. What you do is important. It matters.”
“And those of us who have the privilege to serve this country have an obligation to do our job as best we can. We come from different parties, but we are Americans first. That’s why disagreement cannot mean dysfunction. It can’t degenerate into hatred,” he concluded.
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