Aligning himself with a public fed up with economic uncertainty and Washington gridlock, President Obama declared Thursday: "There is nothing wrong with our country. There is something wrong with our politics."
The president's quick stop in Holland, Mich., was his first official trip outside of Washington after spending more than a month in the nation's capital dealing with the debt debate.
"Unfortunately what we've seen in Washington in the last few months has been the worst kind of partisanship, the worst kind of gridlock, and that gridlock has undermined public confidence and impeded our efforts to take the steps we need for our economy," Obama said after touring a factory that makes advanced batteries for alternative-fuel vehicles.
Obama urged the public to tell lawmakers they have had enough with the bickering and stalemates. "You've got to tell them you've had enough of the theatrics, you've had enough of the politics, stop sending out press releases. Start passing some bills that we all know will help the economy right now," he said. "That's what they need to do. They've got to hear from you."
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, responded with a news release, calling the president's remarks "political grandstanding" and urging him to deliver on promises to outline recommendations to rein in the nation's deficits.
The president has said he will send those recommendations in the coming weeks to a congressional supercommittee tasked with finding $1.5 trillion in savings. He also said Thursday that he would be offering new proposals "week by week" to create jobs, though he provided no details.
Despite Obama's calls for urgent action on the economy, Congress has left Washington for its August recess and Obama will soon follow for his annual summer vacation in Martha's Vineyard. But the president said he saw little reason to call lawmakers back to Washington.
"The last thing we need is Congress spending more time arguing in D.C.," he said. "They need to spend more time out here listening to you and hearing how fed up you are."
Obama urged lawmakers to get to work in September and pass a series of initiatives the White House says will spur job growth, including an extension of the payroll tax cut, three free-trade agreements and funding for road and bridge construction. The only thing preventing some of these bills from being passed, he said, is the refusal of some lawmakers to put country ahead of party. "There are some in Congress right now who would rather see their opponents lose than see America win," he said.