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Obama: 2014 can be 'breakthrough year for America'


WASHINGTON (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.

Obama Reflects on 2013 in News Conference

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nedrub December 20 2013 at 5:23 PM

The only people that think he's still doing a good job....are the "uninformed".....or the one's getting free stuff..

Flag Reply +14 rate up
eligasi2 December 20 2013 at 9:20 PM

It has to get better, theres no place but up from here.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
rwilks02 December 20 2013 at 9:20 PM

It will be a breakthrough year when the Repubs take the congress back and repeal Obama-care.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
2 replies
americanmusclen55 rwilks02 December 20 2013 at 9:43 PM

Amen Brother or Sister

Flag Reply +1 rate up
americanmusclen55 rwilks02 December 20 2013 at 9:43 PM

You know what Rwiks02 the best part of that vote will be telling him, we did not like the cancelation letters and you loose.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
rmorrell200 December 20 2013 at 9:22 PM

What would you expect the man to say? One thing the media has done and Obama cant hide from are pictures taken in 08 and today,,, two completely different men.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
diempostdiem December 20 2013 at 9:25 PM

How do I have my say when I am forced to use Facebook which I refuse to use???

Flag Reply +11 rate up
1 reply
jkcjaa52 diempostdiem December 20 2013 at 9:28 PM

ME to !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Flag Reply +5 rate up
diempostdiem December 20 2013 at 9:25 PM

Amazing, I didn't have to use Facebook.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
2 replies
David L. Dickey diempostdiem December 20 2013 at 9:33 PM

Me too. Guess I am off of probation.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
americanmusclen55 diempostdiem December 20 2013 at 9:38 PM

Having to go through Facebook stinks.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
John December 20 2013 at 9:34 PM

2014 will be the year the stock market bubble burst ....n

Flag Reply +5 rate up
Linda December 20 2013 at 5:00 PM

It has been along recovery because Obama doesnt know what he is doing. Every one of this "plans" has failed. All his bailouts..failed. Obamacare failed. Scandals are the only thing he is good at. He promised transparency...we got lies. He blames Republicans for all HIS failures and his followers drink the koolaid and believe him. Only way 2014 will be better is if we impeach Obama and Biden and vote in someone sane.

Flag Reply +13 rate up
1 reply
Jim Nielsen Linda December 20 2013 at 5:03 PM

Linda...you said it exactly right. I can't believe the people who don't see this.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
jal7551 December 20 2013 at 5:00 PM

I know it was my worst year since he has been President!

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
americaback12 jal7551 December 20 2013 at 5:05 PM

He is not the man for the job, but hey, stupid people put him back, now we all reap the consequences, the one thing is I can say proudly I did not vote for him, because I think long term and realistic, many go by face value, well you got your face value, lets see how this first year of the crap medical goes. Future is what matters, but hey, they here for all and don't think anything else.

That will be their downfall, I was a Democrat the party is whack now.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
1 reply
rcz1965 americaback12 December 20 2013 at 5:12 PM

Well I don't know if you want another Bush lol..Or maybe you just want China to take over the USA...
Get one more Bush in office and it will happen.....

Flag 0 rate up
Janie December 20 2013 at 9:40 PM

Hey...does this mean we don't have to deal with the Huff Post anymore???? Are we finally back to the AOL venue that actually let's people voice an opinion that doesn't bow to the liberal left?

If so...we've come full circle -- and what a long-awaited breath of fresh air that is!

Flag Reply +7 rate up
2 replies
thechargerdude Janie December 20 2013 at 9:42 PM

Yes the NSA is getting some good material tonight. They love this stuff

Flag Reply +2 rate up
xak999 Janie December 20 2013 at 10:16 PM

The Huff Po is not gone, but they are gone from being the AOL default, which is yes, cause for celebration. They began their infamous anti-privacy policy on the 11th and made sure that ONLY facebook members could use it. They made no allowances for logging in through any other browser or server. That cancels them out as a reliable new source for anything other than radical feminists. (and I'm a liberal). It is to that group what Fox News is to ultra right wing tea-partiers--a safe haven only for those with no conflicting opinions.

On here, I do not like the thumbs up/down feature. I think it breeds hostility and some people will uniformly 'thumbs up' or 'thumbs down' every comment that even remotely affects them accordingly. My only other concern is that, once you've responded to someone, they can comment back to you, but it doesn't seem as if you can converse beyond that--but it's all new to me anyway so I might be mistaken.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
Janie xak999 December 20 2013 at 10:20 PM

Thank you for the info, xak999! Didn't know what was up.

Flag 0 rate up
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