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. American Worker

    So how is it possible for such a professional to claim to have screwed-up and have so little accountability for those that were screwed?

    December 20, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rupert Murdoch

      Keyboard warriors are SO accountable, it is scary.

      December 20, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Roberto

    Yes, he screwed that up and about a half dozen other ventures. When will the American people (the ones that voted for him), realize he does NOT know what he's doing!!

    December 20, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • JMan

      They will never know because most people who voted for him are so uneducated that they never actually realize what's happening.

      December 20, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. OnTheRoad

    Our (or at least someone's ) president stated "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." Well, I for one have lost "ALL" trust in our government! I can't blame it all on Obama, I lost my trust while we were under the direction of Bush/Cheney!

    December 20, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jim

    how can you say you messed up and have a smirk on your face ? it's simple, you now have tens of thousands of new government akorn (navigator) workers manning the liberal campaign industrial complex, ensuring that voter registration and early ballots are stuffed in strategic back alleys throughout the U.S.

    December 20, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JM

    How come every big announcement from this Administration occurs on a FRIDAY? It's not coincidence that all bad news/single handed law changes/decisions are released at times when everyone is busy with their lives. Only the people who follow politics know the truth, as we are the ones paying taxes, building businesses, etc. The people not paying attention are being duped, and unfortunately, that number is becoming the majority. It's important that everyone who cares stay in the fight.

    December 20, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JackHarrison

    This is what happens when you pass things before you read what's in it.

    December 20, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. doug

    obama is a good man

    December 20, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. doug

    obama is a good man. dont care what any of you say

    December 20, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MickeyOregon

    1) OBAMACARE website works? Wow! Since when?
    2) OBAMACARE works? Since when? Especially since he once again chose not enact it but provided another not-allowed Presidential tweak.
    3) He met with the OBAMACARE drones regularly? a) then why does he say he knew nothing? b) why does his schedule state that he didn't? c) why didn't he know anything about it?
    BHO: our most Nixonian of presidents – ever.

    December 20, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • MickeyTroll

      Hey Mickey, you're so fine you blow our minds! Do you have health care coverage from your employer, Mickey? Or have you signed up for insurance as a result of the ACA via an exchange? Do you live in a state that has expanded Medicaid, or do you live in one of those nasty red states with state governments who refuse to expand purely for ideological reasons? Do you side with the republican army whose only objective is to impose barriers to a successful implementation of the law, rather than actually trying to give it a chance to work and improve the situation? Do you have an alternative to the ACA that we could implement today that would reduce health care costs and address the numerous conditions the ACA addresses? Or are you simply hell-bent on making sure this country fails at any cost? You are an obstructionist, and you have no viable alternatives.

      December 20, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jdc

    Obama has been on the defensive since day one, and as a conservative I feel slightly bad for him about that. The tea party and its minions fabricating controversies, and making mountains out of mole hills is not progress. However, it bothers me that he has spent so little time following through on his campaign promises and taking credit for things he had no hand in. The most recent is the Iran nuclear deal. Iran came to the UN, not the other way around. And if he wants to prop up the sanctions as the reason, those sanctions were written by congress and implemented under Bush. As for his promises, there is less transparency in his administration than in Bush's, which is saying a lot. He promised bipartisan compromise, yet spent his entire first term avoiding republicans like the plague. His all or nothing progressive attitude is counterproductive. Several times he has said "give me this now, and I will give you that after." He still has yet to compromise on anything he has said he would. Now I don't think it's all his fault. In his first term he was heavily influenced by Rahm, who is the progressives version of Rush Limbutt. Reid, Pelozzi, and Rahm are the three headed monster of the progressive movement. No debate, no compromise, and an all or nothing attitude. Obama has picked up that torch and ran with it. When we had the debt ceiling debate he said it was unprecedented for there to be spending cuts attached to the bill. 25 of the last 28 debt ceiling bills had spending cuts attached. Not sure how that's unprecedented. The only president to not include spending cuts has been him. I'd like to see him have a softer approach to the Republican Party. He engages in name calling and belittling, which is stooping to the tea baggers level. I expected a lot more from him than to act like a child. He has bold face lied to the American people, and on way too many occasions said that he was not aware of a program or policy that turned out to be a scandal. How does a president either admit to or lie about not knowing what his administration is doing? If he's being honest , which I highly doubt, then he needs to reign in his minions and have more control. He has 3 years left and can do a lot in that time, but that's only if he puts down the otogressive torch and starts doing what's right for the American people.

    December 20, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Pat

    He's half white.

    December 20, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jerry

    Couldn't agree more. Should be impeached abd imprisoned.

    December 20, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. WhoIsFoolingWho

    Even 'Liar of the Year' can't hide the fact that his policies are failures, and he has been spectacularly incompetent.

    December 20, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. razzledazzle5

    The website is not working today December 19.

    December 20, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. razzledazzle5

    "The Health Care Website problems WERE a source of frustrations."
    What? As an agent I still can not get my clients enrolled and I am giving them the bad news today...we'll try for February 1st now. But...it appears you may not qualify since you are below the poverty level and Medicaid won't cover you either. You need to make more money or less money, but at poverty we can't help you still.

    December 20, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
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