At a White House press conference Thursday morning, President Obama praised Congressional Republicans and Democrats for finally reaching an agreement, thus ending the first government shutdown in nearly two decades.
“Democrats and responsible Republicans came together,” he said. “[T]he first government shutdown in 17 years is now over. The first default in more than 200 years will not happen.”
But his celebratory tone changed almost immediately.
“Let’s be clear: there are no winners here,” he said. “We don’t know yet the scope of the damage [done to our economy], but every analyst [under the sun] says it’s slowed growth.”
He further emphasized that the shutdown, which he said was completely unnecessary and avoidable, eroded the public’s trust in their elected representatives.
“The American people are completely fed up with Washington,” he said. “At a moment when our economic recovery demands more jobs and more momentum, we’ve got yet another self-inflicted crisis that’s set our economy back.”
Though he didn’t mention them by name, it’s clear who the president holds chiefly responsible for the weeks-long impasse: Congressional Republicans.
“Nothing has done more to [harm our economy] than the kind of tactics that created these manufactured crises,” he said. “Nothing has done more damage to our credibility in the world than the spectacle we’ve seen the last couple weeks.”
Then, surprisingly, he addressed members of Congress directly.
“The way business is done in this town has got to change,” he intoned. “Now that the government is reopened -- and this threat to the economy is removed -- all of us need to stop thinking about [the bloggers, the activists, the think tanks] and instead think about what the American people sent us here to do.”
He added that both chamber's of Congress are now required by federal law to sit down with one another in the future and craft responsible legislation that funds the government long-term and reduces the deficit.
“I will look for partners wherever I can to get good work done,” he added. “[T]here’s no good reason why we can’t govern responsibly despite our differences.” The president failed to mention, however, that he himself refused to even meet with Congressional Republicans at certain points during the negotiations.
In any case, he concluded his remarks with a “simple message.”
“I have a simple message to the dedicated and patriotic federal workers: Thank you. Thanks for your service. Welcome back. What you do is important. It matters,” he said.