US President Barack Obama on Friday called for more investment in the nation's infrastructure to create jobs and boost the economy when he inspected New Orleans, a port in the state of Louisiana on the Gulf of Mexico.
"Rebuilding our transportation and communications networks is one of the fastest ways to create new jobs," Obama was quoted by local media as saying.
With the upcoming expansion of the Panama Canal, larger ships will need deeper waterways to do commerce in the United States. " So why wouldn't we put people to work upgrading them?" said Obama. "Let's make sure we've got the best ports and roads and bridges and schools,"
He also urged efforts to make it easier for more businesses to expand and to export more goods made in America.
In his speech, Obama also said that the 16-day partial government shutdown in October is hurting the U.S. economic growth momentum despite ongoing economic and job market recovery.
He also talked about problems plaguing the rollout of health care reform law, or the Affordable Care Act, criticizing Louisiana Republican leaders who failed to take advantage of a provision in his signature health care law to expand Medicaid to cover more of the working poor.
Obama under increasing pressure to fix the website that forms the centerpiece of his signature healthcare overhaul. The president has in recent weeks been embroiled in controversy over the implementation of Healthcare.gov, the web site of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.
Launched on Oct. 1, the site has been riddled with technical glitches preventing people from completing enrollment in health insurance plans, frustrating many users and raising questions about the government's competence in implementing such a massive project.
In New Orleans Friday, Obama expressed once again his frustrations with the troubled federal health care website, saying he wished he could personally fix the website but jokingly saying he didn't know enough about computer code to do so.
Before delivering the speech, Obama toured the Nashville Avenue wharf in the Port of New Orleans, accompanied by federal government officials including U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and local officials such as Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal.
Analysts say New Orleans is a long-time Democratic holdout in a red state, the trip could help the president's approval in other parts of Louisiana. The latest Gallup Poll showed Obama's job approval rating is around 40 percent. His rating is even lower in Louisiana.
President Obama is also scheduled to travel to Miami in the state of Florida later Friday for attending three more Democratic fundraisers.