(WASHINGTON) — Just one week since the end of the 16-day government shutdown, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Thursday expressed concerns about its economic impact.
“Even though we do not yet know the full extent of the damage, we do know that it slowed economic growth … and job creation this quarter,” Lew said at a policy conference.
The secretary remained optimistic, however, calling the shutdown “an opportunity to build.”
“There’s no reason to let this moment slip through our fingers, not when the American people are yearning for the parties to come together and not when the stakes for America’s workers and businesses are so high,” he said.
The former chief of staff criticized the “political brinkmanship” in Washington for causing the shutdown, calling it a “manufactured crisis, but a crisis nonetheless.”
Lew outlined specific steps for his “pro-jobs, pro-growth agenda” going forward.
“It’s crucial that we close wasteful tax loopholes, eliminate costs where it makes sense and use some of the resources we free up to make targeted investments in a few key areas, like manufacturing, infrastructure, and education,” he said.
Lew also stressed that Congress must “[fix] our broken immigration system,” referring to the bipartisan bill that has passed the Senate and is awaiting passage in the House. The immigration bill, he said, would increase economic growth by more than $1 trillion by “attracting highly skilled scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs.”
The immigration bill, Lew said, would “generate new consumer demand and spark business activity, while producing payroll tax revenue that will reduce our deficit and put Social Security and Medicare on a more stable footing.”
Lew also encouraged the House to pass the farm bill.
“The farm bill conferees have an opportunity to work together to develop a bipartisan package that promotes economic growth and job creation while protecting the most vulnerable,” he said.
The secretary will be instrumental in the upcoming budget negotiations.
“Getting this done will require tough choices,” Lew said, but emphasized that bipartisan consensus will ultimately “find a pathway to progress.”
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