Speaking at Johnson Controls Inc. in Holland, Mich., Obama blamed stock-market turmoil and S&P's downgrade of U.S. debt on "brinksmanship" and political games.
"There is nothing wrong with our country. There is something wrong with our politics. There's something wrong with our politics that we need to fix," Obama told workers gathered at the factory.
"This downgrade you've been reading about could have been entirely avoided if there had been a willingness to compromise in Congress. See, it didn't happen because we don't have the capacity to pay our bills -- it happened because Washington doesn't have the capacity to come together and get things done. It was a self-inflicted wound."
The president went on to say some members of Congress "who would rather see their opponents lose than see America win."
"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 our economy right now. That's what they need to do -- they've got to hear from you," he said.
The president urged Congress to extend the payroll tax and to approve trade bills that would improve the global economy.
Obama visited Interstate Moving Services in Springfield, Va., Tuesday to announce the final fuel-efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles such as work trucks, buses, garbage trucks and heavier vehicles.
Big tractor-trailer trucks, for instance, will have to get 20 percent more miles per gallon by the 2018 model year under the first-ever fuel economy rules for heavy vehicles.
Total benefits, including less time spent refueling and lower global-warming emissions, were expected to exceed the projected costs of $8 billion by $49 billion over the trucks' lifetime, the Environmental Protection Agency said.
The rules will save about 500 million barrels of oil over the vehicles' life, the administration said.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the Tuesday and Thursday events "highlight this administration's ongoing commitment to saving families and American businesses money at the pump, slashing our dependence on oil and creating cutting-edge jobs."
Obama plans to travel around the Midwest for three days next week on an "economic bus tour," the White House said.