President Obama on Friday said there was “no question” that the government shutdown hurt the nation’s economy as he pushed for more spending on infrastructure in an address at the Port of New Orleans.
“The first thing we should do is stop doing things that undermine our economy,” the president said from Louisiana, criticizing the “consistent cycle of manufactured crises and self-inflicted wounds that have been coming out of Washington.”
“These self-inflicted wounds didn’t have to happen, and they shouldn’t happen again,” he added.
The speech came hours after surprising economic news, with the latest Labor Department report showing that the economy added 204,000 jobs in October.
The jobless rate, though, rose slightly to 7.3 percent, as many government workers furloughed during the 16-day partial federal shutdown were counted as unemployed.
Obama said the report showed the economy grew at the “fastest pace in a year,” but he cautioned that the shutdown had still cost Americans.
“The bad news is that on the very day the economic quarter ended, some folks in Washington decided to shut down the government,” he said. “The gears of our economy, every time they are just about to take off, somebody taps the brakes and says, ‘Not so fast.”
The president urged lawmakers to spend more to bolster the nation’s infrastructure and on education programs, which he said would help the economy grow and strengthen the middle class.
“Rebuilding our transportation and communication networks is one of the fastest ways to create new jobs,” Obama said.
“Let’s make it easier for businesses to expand and grow,” he continued. “Let’s give everybody a chance to get ahead, not just a few at the top, but everybody.”
Obama again pushed for Congress to pass a new farm bill and immigration reform, measures he said would add to economic growth.
Obama’s speech was the latest in a full-court White House press to boost infrastructure spending, which the president says is key to job growth.
Vice President Biden on Wednesday spoke at the North Baltimore, Ohio, CSX intermodal terminal, where he made the case for more spending on the nation’s ports and railways.
“Rebuilding our roads, bridges and ports will not only put Americans back to work, but also help to expand trade, keep American businesses competitive and create even more jobs here at home,” said the White House in a statement ahead of the president’s speech.
Obama was joined at the event by Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, New Orleans Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu, Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
The president is flying later Friday to Miami, Fla., area, where he will attend three Democratic fundraisers.