-- President Obama marked a decade of recovery after Hurricane Katrina, touring New Orleans today not only to get a first-hand look at the progress made after the storm destroyed the city, but also to encourage its residents to achieve "real change."
"If Katrina was initially an example of what happens when government fails, the recovery has been an example of what’s possible when government works together,” Obama said during remarks at a community center in New Orleans Thursday afternoon.
While the president acknowledged the government's challenge to rebuild the region’s infrastructure in the wake of the disaster, he stressed that “real change” to social and economic barriers is “even harder" to attain.
“It takes courage to experiment with new ideas and change the old ways of doing things. That’s hard. Getting it right and making sure that everybody is included, and everybody has a fair shot at success -- that takes time. That’s not unique to New Orleans. We got those challenges all across the country,” he said.
But Obama credited the people of New Orleans as an inspiration to him as he shares that message over the duration of his presidency.
“I’m here to hold up a mirror and say because of you, the people of New Orleans working together, this city is moving in the right direction,” he continued. “I have never been more confident that together we will get to where we need to go. You inspire me.”
The trip is Obama's sixth visit to New Orleans, and his ninth trip to Louisiana as President in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Meanwhile, the president took aim at congressional Republicans, noting that he expects lawmakers to pass a budget next month that doesn’t include any extraneous policy riders or threaten to shut down the government.
“Our economy has been moving and continues to grow, and unemployment continues to come down, and our work is not yet done, but we have to have that sense of steadiness and vision and purpose in order to sustain this recovery so that it reaches everybody and not just some,” Obama said. “It’s why we need to do everything we can in government to make sure that our economy keeps growing."
“That requires Congress to protect our momentum, not kill it,” he warned. “Congress needs to fund America in a way that invests in our growth and our security and not cuts us off at the knees by locking in mindless austerity or short-sighted sequester cuts to our economy or our military.”
Congress must pass a bill to fund the government by September 30 or the government could shut down for the second time in two years.