ATKINSON, Ill., Aug. 17 (UPI) — Politics is a process and government is an institution, and politics not working doesn’t mean government is broken, U.S. President Barack Obama said.
“You’ll hear a lot of folks … say that government is broken. Well, government and politics are two different things,” Obama said at a public town-hall meeting in Cannon Falls, Minn., during a three-day Midwest bus tour that takes him to Atkinson and Alpha, Ill., Wednesday.
“As frustrated as you are about politics, don’t buy into this notion that somehow government is what’s holding us back. … Government is what protects us. The government is what built the Interstate Highway System. Government is what sent a man to the moon. It’s what invested in the research and development that created innovations all across this country,” he said.
“Our politics is broken,” not government, Obama said Tuesday in Decorah, Iowa.
Broken politics is “the only thing that is holding us back,” he said later in Peosta, Iowa. “The only thing that is preventing us from passing the [free-trade, payroll-taxes and road-construction] bills I just mentioned is the refusal of a faction in Congress to put country ahead of party, and that has to stop,” Obama said. “Our economy can’t afford it.”
Obama made his comments as Republican presidential hopeful Texas Gov. Rick Perry was 15 miles away in Dubuque, Iowa, campaigning for the Republican nomination to run against him next year.
“We don’t have to settle for our current circumstances,” Perry said. “We have the power to change that.”
In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Perry added: “The administration tells us we’re in a recovery. It sure doesn’t feel like a recovery.”
Obama touched on Perry’s campaign pledge Saturday to make Washington “inconsequential” in people’s lives. Without addressing it directly, Obama simply said the opposite.
“There are times where that SBA [Small Business Administration] office or that USDA [Department of Agriculture] office can make all the difference in the world,” Obama said, acknowledging “the prime driver of economic growth and jobs is going to be our people and the private sector and our businesses.”
“There are some boneheaded things the government is doing that need to be fixed,” Obama said. “But you know what? Government can help. Government can make a difference.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called Obama’s trip a blatant re-election campaign swing.
“No matter what the president says, his Midwest bus tour is nothing but a campaign trip,” Priebus said. “He’s talking about campaigning against Congress and doling out talking points, not policy plans.”
The White House denied the trip was political. Spokesman Jay Carney said it was ridiculous to suggest that “any time the president leaves Washington, it’s campaigning.”
Obama is simply “doing what presidents do — going out into the country,” Carney said.
At a White House-sponsored rural economic forum at Northeast Iowa Community College, Obama announced the departments of Agriculture, Energy and Navy would invest as much as $510 million over three years to produce advanced biofuels to power military and commercial planes and ships.
He announced initiatives to help lift rural areas, like doubling government investment in small businesses and increasing job-search and -training programs for people in rural areas.
Obama said his administration was trying to make agriculture an economic driver, and drew laughter when he praised a former state senator “who’s helping farms manage manure in creative ways.”