President Obama: '2014 Can Be A Breakthrough Year For America' - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

President Obama: '2014 Can Be A Breakthrough Year For America'

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Washington, D.C. -

President Barack Obama and his family boarded Air Force One for two weeks in Hawaii shortly after he held his last news conference of the year. While the President tried to put a positive spin on things, he readily acknowledged that 2013 has been a very difficult year for his administration, perhaps the most frustrating of his presidency.

 

The disasterous rollout of Obamacare, the flip flop on Syria, the N-S-A spying scandal, the government shutdown, the debt ceiling crisis, just to name a few of the problems to plague the President in the last year. However, during his news conference, President Obama refused to dwell on the past, instead choosing to look toward 2014, which he promised would be better.

He also pointed to the latest economic growth figures as proof that the future is looking brighter. The economy grew more than four percent in the third quarter, its fastest pace in nearly two years. He also touted improvements with the Obamacare website noting that half a million people had signed up for healthcare coverage in December. And he addressed the National Security Agency scandal saying he is looking at a number of recommendations to reform how the agency operates, though he didn't specify.

The President will need all the rest he can get in Hawaii. He will certainly have to do battle with Congress on a number of issues when he gets back, not to mention deal with the upcoming midterm elections, the outcome of which could have a huge impact on his last two years in office.

 



 

(FOX 11 / AP) Citing progress on the economy, President Barack Obama said at his annual year-end news conference Friday that 2014 "can be a breakthrough year for America" after a long season of recession and slow recovery.

But when it came to the universally panned roll out of his health care law, Obama conceded that "we screwed it up," and said, "I'm going to be making appropriate adjustments once we get through this year." It was unclear if he meant to signal high-level personnel changes.

The president praised Congress for a recent, relatively modest budget compromise, saying, "It's probably too early to declare an outbreak of bipartisanship. But it's also fair to say we're not condemned to endless gridlock."

He also renewed his long-standing refusal to negotiate concessions with Republicans in exchange for legislation that will be needed in late winter or early spring to raise the nation's debt limit. "It is not something that is a negotiating tool. It's not leverage. It's a responsibility of Congress," he said, although he added he was willing to discuss other issues separately.

Obama spoke from the White House briefing room podium as he concluded his fifth year in office. He and his family were departing later in the day for their holiday vacation in Hawaii.

Asked if this year had been the worst of his presidency so far, he laughed and said, "That's not how I think about it."

Obama's polls are at or near the low point of his tenure in the White House. The rollout of his health care website bombed, and high-visibility parts of his agenda have yet to make it through Congress, including a call for gun safety legislation in the wake of the shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school a year ago and a sweeping overhaul of immigration laws.

"If you're measuring this by polls, my polls have gone up and down a lot over the course of my career," he said, and then repeated that the economy was finally showing significant progress.

The president fielded questions a few hours after the government announced the economy grew at a solid 4.1 percent annual rate from July through September, the fastest pace since late 2011 and significantly higher than previously believed.

Much of the upward revision came from stronger consumer spending at a time when unemployment is at a five-year low of 7 percent. Obama did not mention it, but the stock market is also at or near record levels.

In his review of the year, Obama also noted that U.S. combat troops will finally be withdrawn from Afghanistan during the coming year.

As he has before, he promised to speak in more comprehensive terms in the near future about the future of NSA surveillance programs.

"I have confidence that the NSA is not engaged in domestic surveillance or snooping around," he said. Yet he added, "we may have to refine this further to give people more confidence."

A presidential advisory panel this week recommended sweeping changes to government surveillance, including limiting the bulk collection of Americans' phone records by stripping the NSA of its ability to store the data in its own facilities.

Separately, a federal judge ruled earlier in the week that some of the NSA's activities were likely unconstitutional. Judge Richard Leon called the NSA's operation "Orwellian" in scope and said there was little evidence that its vast trove of data from American users had prevented a terrorist attack.

Obama was challenged on his 6-month-old statement that he and his administration had gotten the balance about right, in terms of the NSA's activities, between concern for terrorism and protection of civil liberties.

He replied that the same assessments are made on a daily basis and noted pointedly that if an attack were to occur, "the question that's coming from you is, `Mr. President, why did you slip?'"

Obama faced the type of challenging questions that presidents have long encountered, and he drew laughter with his answer to one of them.

"My New Year's resolution is to be nicer to the White House press corps," he said.

Tony McEwing co-anchors FOX 11 Morning News at 4:30 am and provides news updates for the Emmy award winning Good Day LA, broadcast weekdays from 7:00 - 10:00 am. He also co-anchors the FOX 11 10 am News and the FOX 11 News at Noon.
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