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. CS

    I believe him. It is the press that is against him and favoring the right wing nuts. They are oppressing him because he is muslim and just trying to make the country more muslim and LGBT friendly. Everyone has jobs and people are nicer to each other than during the last presidents' terms.

    Everyone is a hater of leaders and the press should re-embrace him. After all, he worked so hard for the Noble Peace prize and gave the funds he received to charity.

    He is a family man who still spends time with his family and his kids are thrifty.

    I read about his grassroots programs to overcome the right-wing gun nuts, so we can finally abolish the 2nd ammendment. After that, we can soften the freedom of speech, so we can hear only what the good guys say.

    I know the president and the unions are working together on health care too, so that everyone will not be exempt from the Affordable care act. President, union workers, and politicians will all have the same health care as you and I. Equally funded and not incurring any debt to our already military-driven debt ceiling. I also believe in the tooth fairy and think we should all hold hands with the Chinese to show our love for them and their products. I know the Iranians and North Koreans would like to give us group hugs too.

    Yes, we can! Change! Open government! It's the GUNS that are evil! A softer, gentler military will make the world respect us! More welfare and less real jobs for everyone.... I get a dollar from the Easter Bunny when I lose a tooth. I always vote Democrat too. Peace out!

    December 20, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jim

    They all lie. Let's not act like this is something new. Presidents lie about wars, selling weapons, and some lie about their affairs.

    December 20, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Robbie Goodbar

    I believe that the idea that his healthcare line was a lie of the year in terms of saying that people can keep their plan is false. I believe that the president understands that large change always creates unease in the public. The president is very perceptive as to the feelings and concerns of the american public which is probably why he said that people could keep their health plan. This is an unintended consequence of him trying to reduce the publics concern about health care change as a whole and not a lie. I believe it reflects the presidents desire to influence and control more than he is realistically able to as businesses ultimately made those decisions that the president had no control over. The statement reflected the presidents good intent, but the outcome reflected his sense that he can do more than he actually can.

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

      if he cares about the American people why did he make it legal to detain American citizens indefinitely without trial?

      December 20, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Down Low

      There was no good intent. His advisors knew very well that this law would cause loss of jobs due to the hours limit. They are not stupid and have many minds behind these actions. There was no consideration for if someone on unemployment could afford to buy insurance on a minimal wage that doesn't even cover living expenses. You obviously have never lost your job because you are clueless.

      December 20, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Stuart

    I used to be an Obama supporter but the appearance of lies and/or ignorance has made me wish even more that Hillary had won the Dem primaries.

    Case in point from widely reported news in August 2013, which counters today's claims:
    "In the wake of revelations last week that NSA had violated privacy rules on nearly 3,000 occasions in a one-year period, NSA Chief Compliance Officer John DeLong emphasized in a conference call with reporters last week that those errors were unintentional. He did say that there have been “a couple” of willful violations in the past decade. He said he didn’t have the exact figures at the moment."

    And for Obama to suggest that more wireless access in classrooms is something that wouldn't have happened regardless of political office holders (such as himself) is freaking ludicrous. More people have cell phones now too. I'm surprised he isn't claiming that as an accomplishment.

    December 20, 2013 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Wes Scott

    I would tell Obama, "Denial is not a river in Egypt." Many Obama supporters have abandoned him over his failures on the environment and foreign military adventures that he promised to end, but has not. The NSA stuff only makes him look more like a Republican and anything else. The only reason I voted for him in 2012 was because the GOP gave us absolutely no other choice with the dunces they had on their ticket. I would have gladly voted for Jon Huntsman, but he was not loony enough for the GOP. They needed a guy from the planet Kolob who wears "magic underwear."

    December 20, 2013 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rooster Cogburn

    His biggest mistake was running the USA aground...

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

    Obama arrogantly dismisses the fact that polls show he is among the most unpopular Presidents in US history, according to CNN.

    Do you think it's occurred to him that disdain for the people might in part be WHY he is among the most unpopular Presidents in US history?

    December 20, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dr. Man

    The most horrendous fraud ever perpetrated on the American people, was the nomination of this complete idiot for the office.

    We now know Mr. Obama is nothing but a sanctimonious, self-righteous, inept Affirmative Action poster child, meant to pander to a gullible voting public.

    NEVER AGAIN!

    December 20, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Garrett from Texas

    "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." – From the Article

    -–

    No, they're already passing sanctions because they don't trust you to do your job. This includes several of your fellow democrats.

    December 20, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. herb666

    The charm starts to wear thin when the charmer looks you straight in the eye and boldface lies to you. Obama hasn't come anywhere near "fixing" that one yet!

    December 20, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. dj

    Wow! what a complete lack of leadership from the whitehouse and BO.

    shameful.

    December 20, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jim

    The US was being ran in to the ground long before Obama took office. Of corse he just throwing more dirt on it!

    December 20, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JJR526

    2,000,000 jobs but only 600,000 above minimum wage.

    December 20, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Drew

    CNN – 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.

    Hmm...a Federal Court ruled last week that their meta-data collection was a violation of the Constitutional rights of all US Citizens...wouldn't most people think THAT is an abuse?

    December 20, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Al

    There is no WE Mr. Obama it was you, Harry and Nancy that did the failures. This was a nice end of the year speech, to bad it's not your final speech forever, but that day will come. Now you go enjoy your vacation while people are unable to find jobs and that thanks to the ACA will be even harder for them to find a full time job. I hope you and your family have a good meal, while many have nothing to put on the table for they lost their job.

    December 20, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • SorryAl

      Sorry, Al. The current economy is entirely YOUR fault. You see, Bush took the budget surplus and record growth handed to him by Clinton (you know, the democrat) and completely screwed everything up in less than two years. He LIED to the world about WMD in Iraq, and sent thousands of our fighting men and women to their DEATH so he and Cheney could reap the rewards of record oil prices. He cut taxes while starting two illegal wars and sent the deficit to record levels. Since you and your ilk voted for Bush not once, but twice, we have no one to else to blame. The deaths of every single soldier, every single Iraqi, and every single Afghani lie solely on YOUR shoulders. Thanks for that. Do not ever vote again. You don't deserve the right.

      December 20, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
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