Obama addresses successes, shortcomings for 2013
President Barack Obama addresses reporters during his year-end news conference Friday.
December 20th, 2013
03:16 PM ET

Obama addresses successes, shortcomings for 2013

Correction: We hate to admit it, but in the heat of live-blogging President Barack Obama’s year-end news conference, we misquoted him as saying he “screwed the duck” with the Obamacare rollout. What he actually said was: “We screwed it up.” And in this case, so did we. We regret the error, and we thank our audience for the feedback.

[Updated at 3:16 p.m. ET] Obama hailed what he said was the first rollback in Iran's nuclear capabilities in a decade. Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons has long posed a challenge to U.S. national security, and the U.S. now has a structure under which Iran can "get right with the international community in a verifiable fashion" and prove that any peaceful nuclear program will not be weaponized and that it won't threaten the U.S. and its allies in the region, including Israel.

If Iran reverts to its old ways, Obama said he would put more pressure on Iran, but that isn't necessary right now. Existing sanctions remain in place, costing Iran billions of dollars each month in oil sales, along with banking sanctions, he said. There is no need to leave a club hanging over Iran's head, Obama said, because there's no doubt among Iranians that Congress will pass more sanctions if necessary.

[Updated at 3:10 p.m. ET] Asked about the implications of nominating Sen. Max Baucus as ambassador to China when Baucus offered the best hope of overturning the tax code, Obama called for "swift confirmation" of Baucus as ambassador and said that if Democrats and Republicans are "serious about tax reform, then it's not going to depend on one guy."

[Updated at 3:04 p.m. ET] Despite the negative publicity surrounding his health care initiative, 2 million people or more have signed up, Obama said, saying the program is "working."

"The demand is there, and as I've said before, the product is good," he said.

[Updated at 3:00 p.m. ET] Obama declined to comment specifically about Edward Snowden, saying he would let the courts and attorney general comment on his case, but he said that Snowden's leaks have "done unnecessary damage to U.S. intelligence capabilities and U.S. diplomacy."

He further said the United States is a country that "abides by the rule of law, that cares deeply about privacy, that cares about civil liberties, that cares about our Constitution," where countries with less concern for civil liberties have been able to sit on the sideline and cast aspersions as a result of the leaks.

However, he called the debate that was sparked by the Snowden incident an "important" one.

[Updated at 2:55 p.m. ET] Asked what his New Year's resolution would be, Obama responded, "To be nicer to the White House press corps," earning some laughter and light applause.

[Updated at 2:54 p.m. ET] Obama cites "comprehensive immigration reform" as an example where there's largely bipartisan support on an issue. He expressed hope that despite a "few disagreements," Congress could pass reform that would boost the economy and allow the country to attract more high-skilled workers.

[Updated at 2:50 p.m. ET] Asked to name his worst mistake of the year, Obama said, "since I'm in charge, obviously we screwed it up" on the health care roll-out. Despite meeting every three weeks with officials to ensure that consumers had a pleasant experience with the roll-out, "the fact is it didn't happen in the first month, in the first six weeks, in a way that was at all acceptable."

[Updated at 2:46 p.m. ET] While insisting that the NSA has committed no abuses in performing its surveillance duties, "there may be another way of skinning the cat" to alleviate Americans' concerns, Obama says.

[Updated at 2:42 p.m. ET] "This is only going to work if the American people have confidence and trust," Obama says of the NSA surveillance program, while conceding that American trust in the process has "diminished."

[Updated at 2:36 p.m. ET] Obama says there is a review of NSA surveillance under way to determine if current programs balance the need to keep the country secure while "taking seriously the rule of law and our concerns about privacy and civil liberties."

As for the controversial collection of metadata, Obama says there have been no alleged instances of the NSA acting inappropriately in the use of the data. The president says he has confidence that the NSA is "not engaging in domestic surveillance or snooping around."

[Updated at 2:31 p.m. ET] Asked if 2013 was the worst year of his presidency, Obama chuckled and said that despite Congress failing to act on his legislative initiatives, there have been many successes. Among those are an increase in wireless capacities in classrooms, a manufacturing hub in Youngstown, Ohio, that will "build on the renaissance we're seeing in manufacturing" and the fact that the U.S. is "producing more oil and natural gas in this country than we're importing."

[Updated at 2:26 p.m. ET] Obama says providing more opportunities for the middle-class and those hoping to join the middle class will be a top priority for 2014, and he'd like to see the country add more jobs, especially those with "wages and benefits that allow families to build a little bit of financial security."

"I think 2014 needs to be a year of action," he says

[Updated at 2:24 p.m. ET] As businesses are positioned to add new jobs amid more growth, Obama predicts 2014 will be "a breakthrough year for America," but much remains to be done, Obama says.

[Updated at 2:21 p.m. ET] So far in 2013, the United States added 2 million jobs as unemployment has fallen to the lowest point in five years, Obama says.

[Updated at 2:19 p.m. ET] Obama's year-end news conference has begun.

[Original story posted at 1:57 p.m. ET] President Barack Obama's year-end news conference is expected to begin at 2 p.m. ET.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Politics • U.S.
soundoff (405 Responses)
  1. Sam M

    This guy is incredibly clueless. He has no idea of the damage he has caused our nation. Elected to unite, and instead divided.

    December 20, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Name*alan

    For the second time in 5 years, I agree w Barry. It's his job to run country and not worry about opinion polls.

    December 20, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. betterdays

    Like Richad Nixon years ago, this president has some serious and deep-seated ego issues.

    December 20, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Spender H

    In other news, the designer of the Ti.tanic tells us there is no need for lifeboats.

    December 20, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Brian

    "the fact is it didn't happen in the first month, in the first six weeks, in a way that is at all acceptable."

    He just hired Microsoft Exec to run Obamacare... means it still isn't working. Obama can't count apparently now either.

    October 1st to now is a little more than 6 weeks... Lie much?

    December 20, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. katie

    Obama is ignorant, a liar and completely unqualified for the job as president. Period.

    December 20, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • dartagnan

      thank you, walmart employee katie for posting cold, hard facts on this cnn comment

      December 20, 2013 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Xman

      Since you have some judgments there on the job of the president, please explain how you would have differently than Obama. Be clear and specific.

      Don't have a clue? Of course you don't. Having one requires an education and evidence of critical thinking skills.

      December 20, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ta

    He held the conference for all of his coolaid to listen. 2014 will be the yr of his action. All companies will lay off more workers cuz of obama care . I dont know why the liberals still trust a man who even denied his relative

    December 20, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Chris

    So kevin believe he is a GOD like all the other Democrats.

    December 20, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Indra

    Because Mr Barry expects the "worst year" to come with lower rating than of his predecessor. Bush's presidency was better than that of Mr Barry.

    December 20, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Xman

      What would you have done differently, and how would your actions shown its successes? Surely with such a claim that Bush was better means you have clear and specific answers to that first question. Ill check back.

      December 20, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Daniel

    Lies. I don't believe anything that comes out of his mouth.

    December 20, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. I have opinions

    The Republican PR machine is in full swing. Yet they bring nothing to the table, yet their idea of progress is not doing anything. Have a solution before you complain about a problem.

    December 20, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      I complain about a president who says "he will bring sides together" but also says "he refuses to negotiate"

      This man has no clue on how to work with people other than saying "do it my way"

      December 20, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Enufalready

      Way to spread the rhetoric tool. Obamabot's transform and roll out.

      December 20, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. betterdays

    Obama says "providing more opportunities for those hoping to join the middle class will be a top priority for 2014, and everyone else can pay for it."

    December 20, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Morpunkt

    You can keep your record, Obama!

    December 20, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Chris

    Barack just say 'Yeah I guess so' – we'd respect that a bit more.

    December 20, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Richard

    Just goes to show he is dislusional and the need to increase his dosage of meds

    December 20, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
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