Obama in weekly address: Frustration with Washington understandable

CNN
Saturday, October 19, 2013 - 5:00pm

President Obama used his weekly address on Saturday to once again address Americans' frustration with policymakers in Washington, saying, not for the first time, that "there were no winners" in the protracted conflicts over the debt ceiling and the partial government shutdown.

"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," the president said. "And it's understandable that your frustration with what goes on in Washington has never been higher."

Obama did not directly call out Republicans for their role in the shutdown as he has in other recent statements, but rather he used the address to push forward on his second term agenda. Specifically, the president called for Congress to pass a budget that promotes economic growth, to move forward on immigration reform and to pass a new farm bill.

None of these items will be easy achievements for the president.

Congress has not passed a budget in four years, and the two political parties have vastly different budget proposals on the table.

The Democrats' plan calls for increased tax revenue and spending on a number of social programs that Republicans would like to see cut. In his address, the president makes an appeal for new investments aimed at growing the economy.

"There is no choice between growth and fiscal responsibility," Obama said. "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."

The president's appeal for immigration reform also will fall on deaf ears for many House Republicans who are unwilling to support any plan that would provide a pathway to citizenship for the nearly 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Passing a new farm bill would be another tall order. Negotiations faltered earlier in the year over funding for food stamps, which Republicans want to see cut.

The president acknowledged the political difficulties these bills face, but he emphasized the need to move forward on discussions.

"We won't suddenly agree on everything now that the cloud of crisis has passed," Obama said. "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." 

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