Obama rounds on Republicans as US re-opens

Mr Obama had sharp words for the Tea Party and said the spectacle of the past weeks had 'encouraged our enemies'. Picture: Getty
Mr Obama had sharp words for the Tea Party and said the spectacle of the past weeks had 'encouraged our enemies'. Picture: Getty
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President Barack Obama last night admitted that America is “completely fed up with Washington” as he attacked the Tea Party for causing the debt crisis.

In what for Mr Obama was an angry speech, he said that Congress had lost the trust of the public and agreed that it had to “get our fiscal house in order for the long haul”.

There were sharp words for hard-line Republicans who he accused of caving-in to “pressure from the extremes” and pushing America to the brink.

Mr Obama said: “You don’t like a particular policy, or a particular president? Then argue for your position. Go out and win an election. Push to change it. But don’t break it.”

The president is being seen as the winner of the crisis after Republicans caved-in at the 11th hour to a short-term deal that will end the 16-day government shutdown and will raise the $16.7 trillion (£10.3tn) debt ceiling until February.

As a result, one million government employees went back to work yesterday and National Parks reopened across America.

In Washington, dustmen began clearing the piles of rubbish on the streets, and tourists returned to museums.

The Republican party now faces a period of self-reflection after its attempt to axe Mr Obama’s healthcare law, known as Obamacare, by refusing to raise the debt limit failed.

Come the final deal, which was signed just after midnight yesterday morning, they won no concessions at all.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted 285-144 in favour of the bill, even though most Republicans voted against it. In the Democrat-controlled Senate, approval was even more lopsided: 81-18.

In Mr Obama’s speech, which was part lecture and part invective, he said that the “spectacle” of the past weeks had “encouraged our enemies and depressed our friends”.

He said: “The American people are completely fed up with Washington. At the moment when our economic recovery demands more jobs, more momentum, we’ve got yet another self-inflicted crisis that set our economy back.

“How business is done in this town has to change because we’ve all got a lot of hard work to do on behalf of the American people.”

Mr Obama then rounded on Republicans and said they were to blame for what he called a “manufactured crisis”.

He said: “We hear some members who pushed for the shutdown say they were doing it to save the economy, but nothing has done more to undermine our economy.

“Don’t break what our predecessors spent over two centuries building. That’s not being faithful to what our country is about.”

Mr Obama also made clear that he wants to push ahead with reforms to immigration which could cause yet another row between the House and the Senate.

There are midterm elections next year with primaries taking place in March, which could be the time that Congress votes on a new budget. During the 2011 midterms dozens of Tea Party congressmen were elected for the first time in response to frustration with Mr Obama.

This time around their refusal to compromise on the debt row could either harm them or improve their election prospects.

John McCain, the Arizona Republican Senator who was a moderate voice in the debate, yesterday condemned the extremist wing of his party and said it had been a “terrible idea” to link the national debt ceiling to Obamacare.