Washington (AFP) – Congress must stop stumbling from crisis to crisis and join together to create jobs and get things done, President Barack Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio address.
Speaking just two days after Congress reached an 11th-hour accord to end a 16-day government shutdown and avert a debt default by extending the Treasury’s authority to borrow money, the president said lawmakers have little to be proud of.
“At a time when our economy needs more growth and more jobs, the manufactured crises of these last few weeks actually harmed jobs and growth,” he said.
Economists say the shutdown cost the economy billions as furloughed workers cut back on spending and tourism was sapped, among other effects.
And the provisions of the last-gasp bill already have raised fears that another round of Washington-style brinkmanship and dysfunction may not be far off.
The compromise plan hashed out in the Senate and passed by the House funds government only until January 15 and extends U.S. borrowing authority until February 7.
“And it’s understandable that your frustration with what goes on in Washington has never been higher,” Obama added.
He specified three areas where his Democrats and Republicans can work together productively.
He said these were coming up with a budget that promotes both economic growth and fiscal responsibility, immigration reform to get millions of undocumented foreigners out of the underground economy and paying taxes, and a farm bill to help rural communities.
On immigration, he noted that the Senate has already passed a bill setting out a path to citizenship for such people, called on the House to pass it and said this should be done by the end of the year.
“I’ll look for willing partners from either party to get important work done,” Obama said.
“There’s no good reason why we can’t govern responsibly, without lurching from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis. Because that isn’t governing – it’s just hurting the people we were sent here to serve.”