Obama: 2014 can be 'breakthrough year for America'

The president gives annual end-of-the-year news conference Friday at the White House in Washington.
Associated Press
Dec 20, 2013

Citing strong progress on the economy, President Barack Obama said at his annual year-end news conference Friday that 2014 "can be a breakthrough year for America" after a long season of recession and slow recovery.

Yet he suggested that given widespread criticism, he may alter the power of the National Security Agency to collect information on Americans.

And when it came to the universally panned roll out of his health care law, Obama conceded that "we screwed it up," and said, "I'm going to be making appropriate adjustments once we get through this year." It was unclear if he meant to signal high-level personnel changes.

The president praised Congress for a recent, relatively modest budget compromise. "It's probably too early to declare an outbreak of bipartisanship. But it's also fair to say we're not condemned to endless gridlock," he said.

He also renewed his long-standing refusal to negotiate concessions with Republicans in exchange for legislation that will be needed in late winter or early spring to raise the nation's debt limit. "It is not something that is a negotiating tool. It's not leverage. It's a responsibility of Congress," he said, although he added that he was willing to discuss other issues separately.

Obama spoke from the White House briefing room podium as he concluded his fifth year as president, his hair far grayer than the day he was first sworn in. He and his family were departing later in the day for their holiday vacation in Hawaii.

The president opened his remarks with an upbeat assessment of the state of the economy and seemed determined not to stray from it.

Asked if this year had been the worst of his presidency so far, he laughed and said, "That's not how I think about it."

Obama's polls are at or near the low point of his tenure in the White House. The rollout of his health care website bombed, and high-visibility parts of his agenda have yet to make it through Congress, including a call for gun safety legislation in the wake of the shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school a year ago and a sweeping overhaul of immigration laws.

"If you're measuring this by polls, my polls have gone up and down a lot over the course of my career," he said, and then repeated that the economy was finally showing significant progress.

The president fielded questions a few hours after the government announced the economy grew at a solid 4.1 percent annual rate from July through September, the fastest pace since late 2011 and significantly higher than previously believed.

Much of the upward revision came from stronger consumer spending at a time when unemployment is at a five-year low of 7 percent. Obama did not mention it, but the stock market is also at or near record levels.

In his review of the year, Obama also noted that U.S. combat troops will finally be withdrawn from Afghanistan during the coming year.

As he has before, he promised to speak in more comprehensive terms in the near future about the future of NSA surveillance programs.

"I have confidence that the NSA is not engaged in domestic surveillance or snooping around," he said. Yet he added, "we may have to refine this further to give people more confidence."

A presidential advisory panel this week recommended sweeping changes to government surveillance, including limiting the bulk collection of Americans' phone records by stripping the NSA of its ability to store the data in its own facilities.

Separately, a federal judge ruled earlier in the week that some of the NSA's activities were likely unconstitutional. Judge Richard Leon called the NSA's operation "Orwellian" in scope and said there was little evidence that its vast trove of data from American users had prevented a terrorist attack.

Obama was challenged on his 6-month-old statement that he and his administration had gotten the balance about right, in terms of the NSA's activities, between concern for terrorism and protection of civil liberties.

He replied that the same assessments are made on a daily basis and noted pointedly that if an attack were to occur, "the question that's coming from you is, 'Mr. President, why did you slip?'"

On a key foreign policy concern, Obama said it would be wrong to impose new sanctions on Iran at a time the United States and other nations are testing an interim accord designed to rein in Tehran's nuclear program. If necessary, "we can pass new sanctions in a day," he said, referring to lawmakers.

As for health care, Obama said that despite the problems, including the rollout of the website, "more than 2 million people have signed up or more" since enrollment began.

"What that means is ... the demand is there and the product is good," he said.

He turned aside a suggestion that the administration has made so many exemptions that it should have simply delayed the requirement for individuals to purchase coverage or face a penalty. Several lawmakers have called on him to do that, even some Democrats who voted for the legislation.

Obama faced the type of challenging questions that presidents have long encountered, and he drew laughter with his answer to one of them.

"My New Year's resolution is to be nicer to the White House press corps," he said.

Comments

thinktwice

The breaking point will be when this Country is broke and our currency will no longer be the standard. My job is to follow company policy, his is to follow the Constitution. He doesn't deserve to be in there. I'll be glad when he's out (and I am sure many others will be too). I can guarantee his voters are feeling the impact of their mistake.

The Big Dog's back

Sure am. Doing better than I have in a long time.

Darwin's choice

LMAO!!! Going down swinging, eh Dog?

areyt55

upto I looked at the bank draft four $9231, I didnt believe that...my... mother in law could trully bringing home money in their spare time from there computar.. there mums best friend has done this for only 13 months and just now cleared the debts on their apartment and got a top of the range BMW M3. read more http://goo.gl/f6e95V

Darwin's choice

Dog,is it true that Obie has sent a hundred Thank You cards to Phil Robertson? You know, for taking the spotlight off that trench called Obamacare?

Donegan

Your parents get new carpet going into the basement?

Simple Enough II

+1 nice kidney punch, but keep it above the belt, keep it clean, KNOW LET'S GET IT ON!

Pete

"Sure am. Doing better than I have in a long time."

Isn't the increase in SNAP Card loading set to expire soon though? Then you'll be back to where you were before.

coasterfan

Me too, Big Dog! And so is America. America's GDP was up 4.1% in the 3rd quarter of 2013, much higher than economists predicted. Isn't it funny watching conservatives squirm when good news about the economy and jobs arrives on a daily basis? It's definitely getting harder for them to deny the obvious, isn't it?

44846GWP

Agree, did very well this year, and have done well the last six plus years.

thinkagain

So you’ve done well at the Crowbar, but do you need to brag about it on a public forum?

Contango

Re: "watching conservatives squirm when good news about the economy and jobs arrives on a daily basis?"

Why? Many libers also know to largely credit the Fed.

Darwin's choice

That's the best photo that could be used for Obama, it's him showing how long his list of accomplishments is. See? It's right there, between his index finger, and his thumb......

"If you don't like my methods to implement my agenda, give me your suggestions on how to implement my agenda."

How about coasterfan, about sums it up, right?

JudgeMeNot

Obama and his Lame Duck Dynasty.

Capt. Ford

Breakthrough or Breakdown?

mikeylikesit

breakthrough to communism and sharia law..

topcop1991

Come on 2016!!!!

sugar

Poor obie, he looked exhausted, he is trying to rally the base, but what he doesn't realize is that there are only a few thousand here and there that still support him, mostly the ignorant, the racists, and the deadbeats.

coasterfan

LOL, the only racists are on the Right...

anthras

coasterfan Re; LOL, the only racists are on the Right

I did vote for Ken Blackwell for governor of Ohio in 2006 and I feel that if you or anyone else voted for Ted Strickland then you must be a racist

Pterocarya frax...

Anyone that voted for Blackwell is a tool for the Republican party. He was a horrible candidate.

Contango

Re: "Anyone that voted for Blackwell is a tool for the Republican party. He was a horrible candidate."

Conversely, anyone who voted for Mr. Obama is a tool of the American Political Ruling Class.

He is a HORRIBLE 'excuse' for a president - no leadership or management skills.

The Big Dog's back

Management skills? Like Herbert Hoover? G W Bush?

Darwin's choice

"During the 3-1/2 + years of World War 2 ,that started with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and ended with the Surrender of Germany and Japan in 1945, the U.S. produced 22 aircraft carriers, 8 battleships, 48 cruisers, 349 destroyers, 420 destroyer escorts, 203 submarines, 34 million tons of merchant ships, 100,000 fighter aircraft, 98,000 bombers, 24,000 transport aircraft, 58,000 training aircraft, 93,000 tanks, 257,000 artillery pieces, 105,000 mortars, 3,000,000 machine guns, and 2,500,000 military trucks.

We put 16.1 million men in uniform in the various armed services, invaded Africa, invaded Sicily and Italy, won the battle for the Atlantic, planned and executed D-Day, marched across the Pacific and Europe, developed the atomic bomb and ultimately conquered Japan and Germany."

It's worth noting, that during the almost exact amount of time, the entire Obama administration couldn't build a functioning web site.

Now, Obama thinks.........

Simple Enough II

+1 read that before!

OSUBuckeye59

All of the WWII equipment was built by commercial companies. The website was originally built by government employees, with the government finally realizing 2 months ago they needed the expertise from the private sector to correct all of their errors, most likely created by government employee s/w architects who simply did not understand how to correctly design the architecture of the application needing to be built. Good s/w architects do not come cheap, hence the government not being able to pay for them. Terribly unfortunate the Government didn't think of contracting out the work from Day 1.

The Big Dog's back

Gov was in charge of building all the equipment for WWll. Good thing we didn't wait for the private sector to step up to the plate. Just like Healthcare has been kicked around for years. Obama finally grabbed the bull by the horns and started to tame that animal.

Simple Enough II

Hey BD, The military gave the basic criteria, it was the private sector, that met the challenge, designed the product or proved it wasn't feasible...Geez. Yu put way to much faith in the government bureaucracy with their beaten down minions to come up with something functioning?

Darwin's choice

"more than 2 million people have signed up or more" since enrollment began.

"What that means is ... the demand is there and the product is good," he said."

Or, any other non-lying person might say, is cancelled policies have caused millions to look for some type of coverage, because, you know, their policies were cancelled. But, NO ONE has coverage yet, because there still is no way for payments to be made, you know, to secure coverage. But, their working on it.

Maybe the Obama administration should contact the hackers that targeted Target, they seem to have a good read on websites.....!

Nor'easter

0.0060606060606061% have attempted to sign up. WOW!

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