Obama says he doesn't want to hear about spending cuts

President Obama told Republicans in Congress that he doesn't want to hear about additional cuts to government programs after the 16-day shutdown.

The president said the country can afford to make investments in areas like education, and he noted that the shutdown cut into the economy.


“Don't tell me we can afford to shut down the government, which costs our government billions of dollars, but we can't afford to invest in our kids,” Obama said at a school in Brooklyn.

“This obsession with cutting for the sake of cutting hasn't helped our economy grow, it's held us back,” Obama said.

Standard & Poor's has estimated that the shutdown took about $24 billion from U.S. economy. Obama blasted “a small group” of House Republicans for causing what he said was a “manufactured crisis.”

Congress now faces a Jan. 15 deadline for funding the government, and a Feb. 7 deadline for raising the debt ceiling.

A House-Senate conference committee will meet next week to begin negotiations on how to handle those deadlines. Both Republican and Democratic leaders have said they are interested in getting rid of the sequester of automatic spending cuts, while downplaying hopes for a “grand bargain” deal that would cut into entitlements and reform the tax code.

Obama said the site of his speech — the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) in Brooklyn — was an example of the type of program that lawmakers should be investing more tax dollars in. Students at the school graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate degree in computers or engineering.

“We need to redesign more of our high schools so they teach young people the skills required for a high-tech economy,” Obama said.

The president noted that during his tour of the school, he had stopped in on a “real world math” class to meet with students.

“It got me thinking, 'Is it too late to send Congress here for a remedial course?' ” Obama quipped.

At the same time, Obama said parties needed to “pull together.”

“We need to work together to grow the economy, not shrink it,” he said.

It was the first visit to Brooklyn for Obama since his election to the White House. The president noted that he briefly lived in the borough during the 1980s.

“Brooklyn is blowing up right now,” Obama said. “When I was living here, Brooklyn was cool, but not this cool.”

Earlier Friday, Obama held a conference call with Democratic leaders — including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (Wash.), and House Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen (Md.) — to plot their strategy forward in the budget negotiations.