President Barack Obama cheered the return of federal workers Thursday after a 16 day government shutdown -- and called for an end to the partisan bickering that he said has "inflicted completely unnecessary damage" on the U.S. economy.
Speaking at the White House hours after he signed legislation that re-opens the government, Obama called for a compromise approach to governing and an end to the frequent bouts of crisis.
"To all my friends in Congress, understand that how business is done in this town has to change because we've all got a lot of work to do on behalf of the American people and that includes the hard work of regaining their trust," Obama said, adding, "There's no good reason why we can't govern responsibly, despite our differences, without lurching from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis."
But he had a pointed message for the Republicans that had pushed to repeal his signature health care law in return for funding the government, saying, "you don’t like a particular policy, or a particular president, then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election."
"Push to change it," he continued. "But don't break it. Don't break what our predecessors spent over two centuries building. That's not being faithful to what this country's about."
Obama said nothing had undermined a still recovering economy more than "the kind of tatics that create these manufactured crises.
"And for what?" he said. "There was no economic rationale for all of this."
And he said the "spectacle" in Washington had diminished the U.S. globally.
"It's encouraged our enemies, it's emboldened our competitors, and it's depressed our friends," Obama said.
He said the wrangling has also frayed American nerves: "We know that the American people’s frustration with what goes on in this town has never been higher," he said.
He called on Washington to "stop focusing on the lobbyists, and the bloggers, and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict, and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do."
And he laid out three priority areas -- a longterm budget, an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws and the stalled farm bill.
"Those are three specific things that would make a huge difference in our economy right now, and we could get them done by the end of the year -- if our focus is on what's good for the American people," he said.