President Obama lamented a "shortage of common sense in Washington" during a speech at a Democratic fundraiser on Sunday afternoon, telling the group of donors in attendance that the "sky is the limit" for America - if only Washington could get its act in order.
Mr. Obama arrived at the fundraiser after delivering a commencement speech at Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he addressed hundreds of "remarkable" graduates, some of whom "have overcome the biggest odds" to obtain their degree.
"It makes you so optimistic about the future of America. There is a spirit of innovation, and a spirit of determination...and you see it in these young people and it just makes you ready to go out there and fight the good fight," he said. "The challenge is that, all too often, that same spirit isn't as evident as it needs to be in Washington. Sometimes you feel as if Washington is impeding rather than advancing the possibilities that these young people represent."
The president said he has been "fairly busy" over the last four years, reciting a list of accomplishments that includes winding down the wars overseas, reforming the healthcare system, pursuing energy independence, and stopping the economic free-fall after a 2008 crisis, among others.
"But what I think we're all aware of is that our job is not finished," the president said, "and because of some policies in Washington like the sequester, growth may end up slowing, and we may see once again the job market stall."
The president also stressed there is more work to be done on education, healthcare reform implementation, and infrastructure. He said that, in light of recent bipartisan progress in both houses of Congress, he is "optimistic about our capacity to get immigration reform done."
In his remarks, the president paid particular attention to energy independence and climate change, saying we need to embrace the clean energy sources of the future to ensure that we pass along to our descendants "a planet that isn't in chaos."
"The good news is, every single item that I just mentioned, we've got good common sense solutions that we can implement right now," Mr. Obama said. "The bad news is that there's a shortage of common sense in Washington."
We remain the envy of other nations, the president said, and we could do better still.
But "what's holding us back is a tendency in Washington to put politics ahead of policy, to put the next election ahead of the next generation," he added, "and that mindset is what we need to change." He made no mention of the recent controversies ensnaring his administration that have made so much political hay in recent weeks.
If the nation's leaders can come together around a "non-ideological," fact-based approach to governance, Mr. Obama said, "The sky is the limit. Nothing can stop us."
"Despite sometimes the doom and gloom of what you hear emanating out of Washington," he said, "you should be optimistic about this country. I sure am."