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. Garrett from Texas

    He says jobs are going to be a top priority in 2014.

    Didn't he say that in the Summer of Recovery in 2009 and 2010 when he was too busy working on the ACA to work on economic bills with his majority House and Senate?

    December 20, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      And haven't you been saying that for the past two or three years, having voted Republican every time you've gotten the chance?

      December 20, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dell

    blah blah blah blah Bushes fault blah blah blah Republicans fault blah blah blah the sun was in my eyes...blah blah blah

    December 20, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jason

    Do you suppose the reason for this impromptu conference is because he just read about the economy online?

    December 20, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sharon Stack

    Why is this always on during my soap opera?

    December 20, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jenny

    2014 needs to be the year of

    December 20, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Michael

    The economy is getting stronger every single day and much of it is due to the current Administration's policies. The NeoCons can deny the real impact and improvement President Obama has had, but we all see the reality. Your delusions are nothing but that and I feel sorry for you. If the Repubs would actually come forward with a plan other than obstruction, I would be willing to listen. But alas.....you keep spiraling into a pit of despair and desparation. You're like a cornered kitty lashing out. We the people see the results of the Administration's policies and we like what we see. Obama's ratings will go up from here unless he doesn't fix ACA....which he will. As for those of you complaining about the president's flight to Hawaii.....give it up....every President takes their time off during the holidays on the taxpayer's dime. It is this kind of pettiness that will continue to spiral the right to oblivion. Good riddance!

    December 20, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Smitty

      How can you believe someone who has just won the biggest liar of the year award ????

      December 20, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      The Economy would have went up with anyone in office. You have no idea how business cycles work. Economies do this every 50 years or so. It's called a correction.

      Please save up a hundred bucks and learn about it at your local community college.

      December 20, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jenny

    2014 needs to be the year of BRINGING BACK MANUFACTURING TO THE U.S.

    December 20, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. socal71

    The proper headline for this article should read: "Obama still in Denial"

    December 20, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Frank

    And most of those enrolled were medicare..so what.

    December 20, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Less Opportunity

    Obama want to "HELP" the American people, middle class.

    Which means, RAISE TAXES, especially in the middle class, create laws and regulations that destroy the American Middle class.

    I wish Obama would stop HELPING the middle class so much.

    December 20, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. meki60

    biggest piece of garbage in the world

    December 20, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Brian

    2014. The year of action.... after 6 years in office.

    December 20, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Garrett from Texas

      Yes, clearly he's making it his Top Priority. Just like he said he did in 2009 and 2010 during the Summers of Recovery. He did nothing.

      this is a spin to look good when things suck less than they did.

      December 20, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DC Johnny

    You know who used phrases like "The Great Middle"? Marx.

    December 20, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dave Hawkins

    So....10% of the 7 million required?

    December 20, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mete Kroo

    What do you mean sir?

    December 20, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
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