Remarks of President Barack Obama
The White House
October 19, 2013
Hi everybody. This week, because Democrats and responsible Republicans came together, the government was reopened, and the threat of default was removed from our economy.
There’s been a lot of discussion lately of the politics of this shutdown. But the truth is, there were no winners in this. 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. And it’s understandable that your frustration with what goes on in Washington has never been higher.
The way business is done in Washington has to change. Now that these clouds of crisis and uncertainty have lifted, we need to focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do – grow the economy, create good jobs, strengthen the middle class, lay the foundation for broad-based prosperity, and get our fiscal house in order for the long haul.
It won’t be easy. But we can make progress. Specifically, there are three places where I believe that Democrats and Republicans can work together right away.
First, we should sit down and pursue a balanced approach to a responsible budget, one that grows our economy faster and shrinks our long-term deficits further. There is no choice between growth and fiscal responsibility – we need both. So we’re making a serious mistake if a budget doesn’t focus on what you’re focused on: creating more good jobs that pay better wages. If we’re going to free up resources for the things that help us grow – education, infrastructure, research – we should cut what we don’t need, and close corporate tax loopholes that don’t help create jobs. This shouldn’t be as difficult as it has been in past years. Remember, our deficits are shrinking – not growing.
Second, we should finish the job of fixing our broken immigration system. There’s already a broad coalition across America that’s behind this effort, from business leaders to faith leaders to law enforcement. It would grow our economy. It would secure our borders. The Senate has already passed a bill with strong bipartisan support. Now the House should, too. The majority of Americans thinks this is the right thing to do. It can and should get done by the end of this year.
Third, we should pass a farm bill – one that America’s farmers and ranchers can depend on, one that protects vulnerable children and adults in times of need, and one that gives rural communities opportunities to grow and the longer-term certainty they deserve.
We won’t suddenly agree on everything now that the cloud of crisis has passed. But we shouldn’t hold back on places where we do agree, just because we don’t think it’s good politics, or just because the extremes in our parties don’t like compromise. I’ll look for willing partners from either party to get important work done. 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.
Those of us who have the privilege to serve this country have an obligation to do our job the best we can. We come from different parties, but we’re Americans first. And our obligations to you must compel all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to cooperate, and compromise, and act in the best interests of this country we love.
Thanks everybody, and have a great weekend.