President Obama on Thursday scolded a deeply divided Congress for creating a “manufactured” financial crisis that damaged the U.S.’ credibility, then urged Congressional leaders to work together on fiscal policy that supports economic growth.
“Nothing has done more damage to the U.S.’ credibility,” the president said, “than the spectacle” of the “self-inflicted” budget stalemate that paralyzed the government for more than two weeks.
Earlier Thursday, the president signed into law a bill that reopened portions of the government shutdown since Oct. 1 and staved off a potential default by the U.S. The bitterly-debated bill temporarily funds the government through Jan. 15 and suspends the debt limit through Feb. 7.
“Let’s be clear, there are no winners here,” Obama said in a speech to the American public early Thursday afternoon from the State Dining Room in the White House.
Obama said the economic implications of the most recent budget standoff are broadly negative, and that even the threat of default could make it more expensive for the U.S. to borrow in the future, a situation that runs counter to the reason many Republican lawmakers opposed raising the debt ceiling in the first place.
An influential group of conservative Republicans refused to sign off on a spending bill for fiscal year 2014 unless the bill defunded ObamaCare, the president’s signature health-care reform legislation. That original impasse stoked two weeks of brinkmanship.
The bill passed early Thursday left ObamaCare's funding untouched.
Obama said Thursday that the administration’s foreign diplomats have told him the U.S. standing has been hurt abroad by the repeated fiscal crises brought about by a divided Congress.
The president also cited ratings firm Fitch Ratings justification – the “repeated brinksmanship” of U.S. fiscal policy makers --for threatening to cut the U.S.’ credit rating earlier this week. “How business is done in this town has to change,” Obama said.
“The good news is we’ll bounce back from this,” the president said.
The rest of the world still looks to the U.S. as the safest and most reliable place to invest, he said. “We keep our word and meet our obligations. The full faith and credit of the United State remains unquestioned.”
The U.S. on Wednesday was hours away from a deadline set by the Treasury Department for when the government would start running out of cash to pay its bills. The White House and many economists had predicted significant negative fallout if the U.S. had defaulted on its debts.
Now that the most recent debt crisis is over – temporarily, at least – Obama said Congress needs to get to work on other issues important to economic growth. He pointed to immigration reform and a farm bill, in addition to agreeing on a budget to fund the U.S. through 2014.
“We could get them done if our focus is what’s good for the American people,” he said.
Nothing will get done, however, if the government continues to “lurch from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis.”