But that's not what is being proposed by the Republican budgets. Instead of making necessary changes with a scalpel, so far at least, Republicans have chosen to leave in place the so-called sequester cuts that have cost jobs, harmed growth, are hurting our military readiness. And top independent economists say this has been a big drag on our recovery this year. Our economy is not growing as fast as it should and we're not creating as many jobs as we should, because the sequester is in place. That's not my opinion. That's the opinion of independent economists.
The sequester makes it harder to do what's required to boost wages for American workers, because the economy is still slack. So if Republicans want the economy to grow faster, create more jobs faster, they should want to get rid of it. It's irresponsible to keep it in place.
And if Congress is serious about wanting to grow the economy faster and creating jobs faster, the first order of business must be to pass a sensible budget that replaces the sequester with a balanced plan that is both fiscally sound and funds the investments like education and basic research and infrastructure that we need to grow. This is not asking too much.
Congress's most fundamental job is passing a budget. And Congress needs to get it done without triggering another crisis, without shutting down our government, or worse -- threatening not to pay this country's bills. After all the progress that we've made over these last four and a half years, the idea of reversing that progress because of an unwillingness to compromise or because of some ideological agenda is the height of irresponsibility. It's not what the American people need right now.
These folks standing behind me, these are people who are small business owners, people who almost lost their home, young people trying to get a college education, and all of them went through some real tough times during the recession. And in part because of the steps we took, and primarily because of their courage and determination and hard work, they're in a better place now.
But the last thing they're looking for is for us to go back to the same kind of crisis situations that we've had in the past. And the single most important thing we can do to prevent that is for Congress to pass a budget, without drama, that puts us on a sound path for growth, jobs, better wages, better incomes.
Now, look, it's never been easy to get 535 people here in Washington to agree on anything. And budget battles and debates, those are as old as the Republic. It's even harder when you have divided government. And right now you've got Republicans controlling the House of Representatives, Democrats controlling the Senate, Democrat in the White House. So this is always going to be tough.
Having said that, I cannot remember a time when one faction of one party promises economic chaos if it can't get 100 percent of what it wants. That's never happened before. But that's what's happening right now.
You have some Republicans in the House of Representatives who are promising to shut down the government at the end of this month if they can't shut down the Affordable Care Act. And if that scheme doesn't work, some have suggested they won't pay the very bills that Congress has already run up, which would cause America to default on its debt for the first time in our history and would create massive economic turmoil. Interest rates on ordinary people would shoot up. Those kinds of actions are the kinds of actions that we don't need.
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