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. Rainman

    Maybe he's going to tell us about the 300 Million he's about to spend of taxpayer money to spend the next 17 days in Sunny Hawaii

    December 20, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • judea reconquista

      its only 68M

      December 20, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • VJ

      What an insane comment??? it is purely absurd... when Bushies and Reagan can spend their vacations, then why not Obama, Bushies had more vacation taken when compared with other presidents in modern history of this country.

      December 20, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seriously

      So, you're saying, the president can't celebrate Christmas and take some time off like everyone else in the country? Give me a break.

      Nice try. Don't criticize the president for taking time off considering most of his predecessors have taken much more time than him including his immediate predecessor

      December 20, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • AC2cents

      No, we'll leave that to yu.

      December 20, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Smitty

      Good point Rainman, how can anyone keep making excuses for this loser.

      December 20, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. john

    What about the unemployment numbers, in case your heads have been buried like the states. Numbers are way up

    December 20, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      stats, not states

      December 20, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      No they aren't. They are lower.

      December 20, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sandy

      Did you see yesterday's weekly job report? The number were way higher than expected, up to 389,000 new claims plus they revised tne previous week's numbers up too. Read much?

      December 20, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • perquacky

      November and December job numbers are highly inflated from reality. Every year companies hire a truckload of temporary holiday workers then lay them all off before new years. This has absolutely NOTHING to do with the government....this is the marketplace at work. Governement leaders try to take all the credit for all the hiring. So, if the numbers are going to be used to their advantage to show a lower unemployement rate during the holidays, then they should also be used to show a higher unemployement rate after the holidays. It seems only accurate. Count them all or don't count any of them.

      December 20, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seriously

      Yeah, John, they're totally up considering the economy added over 200K jobs (an increase over previous months) and unemployment dropped to 7%. Clearly, the numbers have gone up as you have stated.

      December 20, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      Jobless claiims are up, excuses will fly saying that it isnt real. They were up last week and the are even higher this week. When they go down, they front headline it. When they go up, No where to be seen, and if it isnt on cnc and msnbc, it cannot be so right?,,, like a said. Heads in the sand.

      December 20, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      “Claims at this time of year are very volatile, so we don’t want to put too much stock in each week’s fluctuations,” said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and the best claims forecaster over the past two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. “Layoffs are low, which is very encouraging.”

      Nice try – still wishing, hoping and praying for the economy to fail to vindicate your dislike of the President?

      December 20, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joel

    Is he going to talk about the release of his 8 sons from prison? Johnny 5 I echo what you said! Love it. HAHA

    December 20, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Eagle0831

    On Obamacare. Obama just changed the old rules that replaced the new rules that were in effect before the old rules were changed to the new rules. I guess we will wait for the new rules not to work so they will become old rules replaced by the new rules. Got it?

    December 20, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. katmoondaddy

    He wants to take credit for the drop in unemployment and the recent surge in the Dow without having to explain Benghazi, NSA and most importantly Obamacare. He is still a flunkie but knows how to play the media. No pats on the back from me.

    December 20, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Garrett from Texas

    He and/or Carny have a press conference almost every couple of days. How is this rare?

    December 20, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Copper

    The only thing I want to hear him say is "I resign".

    December 20, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • kevin

      Who would you rather have in there? There is NO ONE WORTHY!!

      December 20, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. john

    More hocus pocus from the bogus potus.

    December 20, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Frank

    Mr. President, thank you for turning the economy around.

    December 20, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Copper

      You must be one of the CNN people - lovely new batch of snow arrive in the office day???

      December 20, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Copper

      You must be one of the CNN people - lovely new batch of snow arrive in the office today???

      December 20, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Smitty

      Wow really scary, where have you been ????

      December 20, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Just me

    A 'rare' appearance by Obama? Since when is him preaching from his lectern rare? He loves to hear himself speak!

    December 20, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Copper

    CNN - "Rare" new conference? Since when – last week?

    December 20, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jon

    maybe he'll be done with it and just give us the middle finger finally instead of just metaphorically.

    December 20, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. stan

    Well his mouth will be opening, the teleprompter will be spinning and we'll get more of the same. All bluster, no substance. America will not ever be the same after another 3 more years.

    December 20, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JackBriss

    Obama is in DAMAGE control mode. He lies cheats and will do whatever it takes to deceive the people.
    Yep this should teach our young all you need to do in this country too succeed is to LIE cheat and tell 1/2 truths.
    OH always Blame Bush.

    December 20, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. davecu

    Shovel, please!

    December 20, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Garrett from Texas

      No, he gave up the "shovel ready jobs" pitch somewhere in his second "Summer of Recovery" that didn't work after two years of doing NOTHING about the economy because he was too busy creating the ACA with a House and Senate majority.

      A decision that lost him the House and has now lost him his place in history as a great president. He's now just that disliked president who couldn't get rid of the scandals: Fast and Furious, Beghazi, DHS release of illegal aliens, NSA spying, IRS abuses, GITMO still open, Afghanistan still happening, Syria's red-line making him a whimp, giving Iranian spies and terrorists back during a deal without getting Americans back in the process, and so on.

      December 20, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • davecu

      Shovel required because it's going to get deeper still.

      December 20, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
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