Post-crisis, Obama tells Congress to get to work

President Barack Obama told members of Congress that it's time to buckle down.  Credit: Reuters
President Barack Obama told members of Congress that it’s time to buckle down. Credit: Reuters

President Barack Obama urged Congress to focus on matters like immigration reform on Thursday as Washington picked up the pieces from a destructive fiscal crisis that has slowed the U.S. economy and undermined the country’s international standing.

Less than 12 hours after he signed a bill that ended a 16-day partial government shutdown and averted a catastrophic default, Obama on Thursday said lawmakers must stop lurching from crisis to crisis and seek common ground on issues that also include farm policy and long-term budget issues.

“All my friends in Congress have to understand that how business is done in this town has got to change. Because we’ve all got a lot of work to do,” he said at the White House.

On Capitol Hill, Republican and Democratic negotiators held their first meeting to discuss the long-term budget fixes that have proven elusive over the past three years. The panel is supposed to reach agreement by December 13, but there are no guarantees it will succeed where similar efforts have failed.

Obama spoke one day after the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a last-minute bill that will fund the government through January 15 and extend its borrowing authority through February 7, though the Treasury Department may be able to delay the day of reckoning for several weeks after that date.

The bill amounts to a clear defeat for Republicans, who had sought to tie government funding to measures that would undercut Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act.

That effort failed, and the standoff diverted public attention away from the administration’s sloppy rollout of the health law’s online insurance exchanges.

The fight split the Republican party into factions and left it on the wrong side of public opinion. Though Obama’s approval rating fell during the crisis, polls showed that most voters blamed Republicans for the standoff.

Republican Representative Tom Cole from Oklahoma, who will try to hammer out a budget deal with Democrats in the coming months, said it is time to move on. “We’ve had the fight,” he said on MSNBC. “Now it’s time to get down and identify the things we can agree on.”

U.S. stocks edged higher as investors returned to evaluating companies rather than Washington’s budget wrangling. The S&P 500 index fell as much as 4 percent during the standoff but is now nearly back to the record high it reached on September 18.

WORKERS RETURN

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers who had been idled by the standoff returned to work on Thursday. Vice President Joe Biden brought muffins to returning workers at the Environmental Protection Agency, while Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack greeted workers returning to the agency’s headquarters on the National Mall.

“I just hope we don’t have to go through this again in two months,” said Sandria Coombs, an EPA contractor.

What did she do during the shutdown? “Pray.”

Though federal workers will get back pay, the standoff is likely to slow economic growth in the fourth quarter from 2.5 percent to 2.3 percent with a high risk that it could slow even further, according a Reuters survey of 70 economists.

“The insanity in Washington is affecting consumer and business confidence. That’s the huge restraint to growth,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania.

The standoff has elevated borrowing costs, caused private-sector furloughs and delayed mortgage applications and construction permits. Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, estimates that it will cost the economy $20 billion.

The last debt-ceiling fight in 2011 depressed consumer confidence for months and raised the United States’ borrowing costs by $19 billion over 10 years.

One possible upside: the turbulence could prompt the Federal Reserve to keep its massive monetary stimulus in place through next year. One Fed official said the deadlock has undermined the central bank’s ability to fight high unemployment.

“Kicking the can down the road for a few months will not solve the pathology of fiscal misfeasance that undermines our economy and threatens our future,” Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher told the Economic Club of New York.

Economists say the spending cuts and tax hikes approved by Congress over the past several years have elevated the unemployment rate even as they have helped the country narrow budget deficits.

The deal approved Wednesday is likely to cause more short-term pain by keeping the across-the-board “sequester” cuts in place. Officials at the Pentagon and other federal agencies that have been able to minimize the impact of the cuts so far say they will slice deeper in the months to come.

 


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Aria Health Torresdale workers caught selling prescription drugs

Two Aria Health at Torresdale employees were fired amid accusations they sold prescription drugs out of the Northeast Philadelphia campus.

National

Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter died Sunday from prostate cancer…

Former U.S. professional boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who spent 19 years in prison for murder and then was released after it was determined he did not get a fair trial,…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

Television

'Orphan Black' recap: Episode 1, ‘Nature Under Constraint…

Welcome to your first Season 2 “Orphan Black” recap! Hopefully Tatiana Maslany can help Tatiana Maslany get through this, with the help of Tatiana Maslany,…

Books

Poems from prison: 'How to Survive a Bullet…

Celebrate National Poetry Month with, "'How to Survive a Bullet to the Heart."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

MLB

Phillies notebook: Cole Hamels returns this week

The Phillies should receive a big boost when Cole Hamels returns during the Dodgers series.

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.

Parenting

Is camp right for introverts?

We ask an expert for tips on sending your introverted child to camp