WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama scolded congressional Republicans on Thursday hours after a fiscal crisis was narrowly averted and called on his opponents to help repair the economic damage caused by a 16-day US government shutdown and a close brush with a debt default.
Obama stressed that he is willing to work with lawmakers wherever they can agree, but the tone he struck amounted to a rebuke of Republicans, whom Americans largely blame for pushing the United States to the brink of an economic calamity.
"The American people are completely fed up with Washington," Obama said in a White House speech attended by many of the aides who worked day and night through the various stages of the latest fiscal stalemate.
Hours after he signed into law a bill hastily cobbled together to end the crisis, Obama said events over the past two weeks had inflicted "completely unnecessary" damage on the US economy.
An increase in borrowing costs caused by the near-debt default was harmful and consumers cut back on spending with hundreds of thousands of government workers suddenly idled, he said.
"There was no economic rationale for all of this," he said.
Though bruised by the battle, Obama emerged as the clear winner. He immediately sought to use the political capital gained to advance a domestic policy agenda centred around a fresh round of budget talks and an effort to win approval of two stalled items, immigration reform and a farm bill.
He did not mention an urgent challenge facing him now: Repairing the flaws in his signature healthcare law that have prevented many Americans from even signing up for it.
Obama issued an aggressive challenge to Congress, particularly the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, to stop focusing on who wins and loses political battles and get to work with him on issues critical to improving the economy.