Obama slams 'brinksmanship' which led to US shutdown and says public is 'completely fed up with Washington'

Day after a last-minute deal saved the country from the edge of defaulting on its debts, President criticises the political wrangling which has damaged its economic recovery

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The Independent US

Barack Obama has hit out at the politicians whose “brinksmanship” forced the US government into its first shutdown in 17 years, and brought it to the edge of defaulting on its debts for the first time in 200 years.

Speaking for the first time after signing the vital eleventh-hour deal which saw the debt ceiling lifted and a budget laid out until February, the President said the actions of some Republicans had damaged the US recovery and hurt the public’s faith in Washington.

He said “there are no winners here”, and issued a strong message to all politicians to make government work better rather than making it an enemy.

“You don’t like what we’re doing in government? Then argue your case and win an election – don’t break it,” he said, speaking of the “needless, self-inflicted damage” the shutdown had caused.

“The American people are completely fed up with Washington,” Mr Obama told a press conference today.

“At moment when our recovery demands more jobs, we’ve got yet another self-inflicted crisis that set our economy back. And for what? There was no economic rationale for all this.

“The agency which put our credit rating on watch said explicitly that the only thing putting us at risk is ‘repeated brinksmanship’.”

“Nothing has done more to damage to America’s credibility in the world, our standing with other countries. It has emboldened our enemies, and depressed our friends.

Mr Obama issued a three-point plan for getting the US back on track, saying “we will bounce back – we always do”. Those points were to set out a responsible budget to go forward, to fix the “broken” immigration system and to pass a farm bill – one of the key wrangling points holding back the negotiations until now.

The President’s speech came following a deal struck by the Senate last night which adhered strictly to the terms he had set three weeks ago, leaving Republicans little to show for the epic political drama that threatened to rattle the world economy.

A landslide vote of 81 to 18 sent the measure over to the Republican-majority House of Representatives, which passed it by 285 to 144.

The President then signed the agreement through immediately, shortly after midnight local time.

Congress had faced a deadline of 11.59pm local time to raise the government's borrowing authority or risk a default on its obligations – a threat which international observers had warned could have been devastating to the world economy.

The bill reopens the government through to 15 January and permits the Treasury to borrow normally through to 7 February or perhaps a month longer.

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