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Obama: 2014 can be 'breakthrough year for America'

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 07:19 a.m. HST, Dec 21, 2013

WASHINGTON >> Citing strong progress on the economy, President Barack Obama said at his annual year-end news conference today that 2014 "can be a breakthrough year for America" after a long season of recession and slow recovery.

Yet he suggested that given widespread criticism, he may alter the power of the National Security Agency to collect information on Americans.

And 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. "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 said.

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 that he was willing to discuss other issues separately.

Obama spoke from the White House briefing room podium as he concluded his fifth year as president, his hair far grayer than the day he was first sworn in. He and his family were departing later in the day for their holiday vacation in Hawaii.

The president opened his remarks with an upbeat assessment of the state of the economy, and seemed determined not to stray from it.

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?'"

On a key foreign policy concern, Obama said it would be wrong to impose new sanctions on Iran at a time the United States and other nations are testing an interim accord designed to rein in Tehran's nuclear program. If necessary, "we can pass new sanctions in a day," he said, referring to lawmakers.

As for health care, Obama said that despite the problems, including the rollout of the website, "more than 2 million people have signed up or more" since enrollment began.

"What that means is ... the demand is there and the product is good," he said.

He turned aside a suggestion that the administration has made so many exemptions that it should have simply delayed the requirement for individuals to purchase coverage or face a penalty. Several lawmakers have called on him to do that, even some Democrats who voted for the legislation.

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.

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Charliegrunt wrote:
He may not be "brooding", but enough of the rest of us are disgusted enough that it shows up in his approval ratings.
on December 20,2013 | 08:52AM
MalamaKaAina wrote:
Somewhere in Kenya, a village is missing it's I D I O T !
on December 20,2013 | 10:18AM
eoe wrote:
I didn't know you were Kenyan.
on December 20,2013 | 02:11PM
noheawilli wrote:
Not sure what world he is living in
on December 20,2013 | 08:58AM
eoe wrote:
Not sure what world you are living in. Let me guess - fox world?
on December 20,2013 | 09:29AM
what wrote:
He's living in a Presidency of 7% to 9% unemployment, Trillions upon Trillions of dollars of debt, multiple stupid and unnecessary Wars, out-of-control spending, less and less hope for the future of our youth, all under Obama's watch.
on December 20,2013 | 09:39AM
EightOEight wrote:
Faux News diatribe. You thought Romney was going to win by a landslide, too, didn't you? Also, correction...you mean the multiple stupid and unnecessary wars started by the Bush administration that we continue to pay for to this day, don't you? Not just financially either.
on December 20,2013 | 09:51AM
what wrote:
You simpleton. I am not a fan of either Bush or Obama. Obama is continuing and exacerbating all the bad things that Bush did in regard to the economy and stupid ware. And I knew Romney was dead in the water when he selected his VP.
on December 20,2013 | 10:05AM
EightOEight wrote:
If you're going to post a one-sided comment then you deserve a counter post like mine.
on December 20,2013 | 12:46PM
Pacej001 wrote:
Now, boys. Tut. Tut. No name calling.

I must differ with both of you, respectfully, of course. Mr. Area Code: The Fox News slander is but a crutch for the factless and when you use the plural of war you include the one that came to us uninvited from Afghanistan.

And Mr. Interrogatory: You allege that President Emptysuit Pantsonfire has been so uncreative as to merely expand on the egregious missteps of his predecessor. Nay. You give him far to little credit for originality. He has come up with a wholly unique agenda for destroying our wonderful country from within. You should credit the President for his sterling accomplishments.

on December 20,2013 | 11:08AM
EightOEight wrote:
Mr. IQ 001, if Faux News only presents facks and misrepresentations it's not slander. The name calling is for name calling when you said it shouldn't be done, and for lying when you said you would be respectful. Typical for you though.
on December 20,2013 | 12:58PM
Pacej001 wrote:
Such hostility and hurtfulness. How can you be a sensitive liberal and purvey such. I was merely pointing out your erroneous presumption about the nation's most popular, most watched cable news source. Having independently verified the veracity of many Fox facts, I can assure you that your conclusion is baseless. And I believe that "Factlessness" is a common condition on the left, not an instance of name calling. As to the title, President Emptysuit Pants on fire, I believe this a most accurate title for our very excellent chief executive, fully warranted by his skillful implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
on December 20,2013 | 05:24PM
EightOEight wrote:
Mr. IQ001 (how appropriate this name turns out to be) I wasn't referring to your childish name calling of the President, but rather your referring to me as Mr. Area Code. By the way, your feigned sensitivity is quite nauseating.
on December 20,2013 | 06:13PM
Pacej001 wrote:
Nauseated? Excellent.
on December 20,2013 | 10:12PM
Matsu wrote:
EOE- You are a typical lefty. If anybody disagrees with you, they must be blind Fox News followers. Time to get outside your bubble and see that there is a world going on around you. Don't just follow the MSNBC line. Tell me, what happens at your home when you max out your credit cards? If you are a lefty, you simply go get yourself a new credit card and keep spending. That is Obama. Real adults cut up their cards, tighten their belts, cut back on spending until the debt is under control. Not Obama, spend, spend , spend. EVERY major entitlement program, SS, Medicare, Medicade are gong broke, so let's start a new gov't program. I am sure that sound like a good idae to you.
on December 20,2013 | 11:08AM
eoe wrote:
I evaluate comments based on their content. If I hear a real argument I will respond appropriately. But when I see pithy one liners, or people using the fox/palin/rush talking point of the day, I respond with derision. For example, your comment. As soon as you use the word "credit card" to describe the way public debt is handled in the US, I know that you are not a serious person and do not understand basic economics.
on December 21,2013 | 05:07AM
residenttaxpayer wrote:
Out of touch with the rest of us......
on December 20,2013 | 09:24AM
eoe wrote:
Yes, what a miserable existence we are living in. Open sewers running down the center of the street, children starving on the side of the road, no jobs, warlords massacring families, thousands dropping of disease every day.
on December 20,2013 | 09:29AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
So you visited Detroit?
on December 20,2013 | 09:48AM
residenttaxpayer wrote:
Sounds like your really out of touch.....
on December 20,2013 | 10:05AM
DownSpout wrote:
As long as there's plenty of time for golfing, all's right with the world!
on December 20,2013 | 09:30AM
frontman wrote:
Now TAXPAYERS have to foot the 4 million plus bill for him to come to Hawaii. No one even heard of him and now he acts like Hawaii is his home. Chicago is his home...............
on December 20,2013 | 09:41AM
serious wrote:
I think he should campaign here for funds to reimburse the security we give him as taxpayers---or buy him an Aloha shirt!!!
on December 20,2013 | 09:52AM
copperwire9 wrote:
You're completely incorrect, of course. But don't let that hold you back.
on December 20,2013 | 11:24AM
PancitNoodles wrote:
He is visiting family and friends in Hawaii. They don't have guest rooms? Plus this Pres doesn't have a Texas ranch to vacation, or place in Mass or Maine. Why do the taxpayers pay for the rental? Hope the owners report the income and pay excise for the $24,000 a week, and how much is shaved ice sales going to add to the economy in Kailua; esp. when blocked off from tourists for three weeks. Really!
on December 20,2013 | 11:33AM
AhiPoke wrote:
"Obama says 2013 hasn't been so bad for him" - Does the rest of the country feel the same?
on December 20,2013 | 10:09AM
copperwire9 wrote:
Mostly, yes.
on December 20,2013 | 11:25AM
toad103410 wrote:
You e wrong, wrong. Have you looked at his poll numbers? Obviously not.
on December 20,2013 | 11:36AM
Anonymous wrote:
yeah, Not bad for Him..just us.
on December 20,2013 | 10:23AM
HLOEWEN wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on December 20,2013 | 10:30AM
eoe wrote:
And all this before obamacare even starts! Amazing.
on December 20,2013 | 01:19PM
eoe wrote:
Oh, one more thing, Mr. Sock Puppet. This is a Hawaii forum. If you were from Hawaii, you would know that the Hawaii Prepaid Health Care Act in 1974 required employers to offer health insurance to all workers working more than 20 hours. So our laws have been like the ACA for 30 years.
on December 20,2013 | 01:24PM
MakaniKai wrote:
IRT to eoe. First: you are not FORCED to take your employers medical – it is OFFERED as you stated – big difference. Secondly and most important the IRS is not involved. The model in Hawaii is what the country should have adopted and IIRC Hilary Clinton presented to Congress our “affordable health care “model during her husband’s administration. Look where we are at today! auē
on December 20,2013 | 03:49PM
eoe wrote:
The point is the commenter is clearly not from Hawaii and since Obamacare has not kicked in yet is also lying.
on December 21,2013 | 05:08AM
MakaniKai wrote:
What a fitting photo. " I laugh at you the minon citizens of my kingdom! For me it has been the best of times". Holiday Road……….National Lampoon’s Kailua/KBAY Christmas Vacation will be soon underway. Mele Kalikimaka!
on December 20,2013 | 10:37AM
what wrote:
If he tilted his head back a little more, your caption would that much more perfect, haha.
on December 20,2013 | 10:51AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Really hate him. Pity.
on December 20,2013 | 09:11PM
Kahu Matu wrote:
Not so bad for him. Bad for us. Things could have been not so bad for us if he hadn't done many of the things he has. Save yourself, sacrifice everyone else is the political mantra.
on December 20,2013 | 11:01AM
GWakai02 wrote:
He should go to Maui for some body surfing or scuba diving.
on December 20,2013 | 11:28AM
beachbum11 wrote:
Too many shark attacks.
on December 20,2013 | 12:13PM
serious wrote:
That's the point!!!
on December 21,2013 | 04:47AM
Mythman wrote:
I hope he locates his Pres library here -
on December 20,2013 | 12:20PM
keikamaui wrote:
In 2014, the Obamacare Law WILL BE repealed and Obama's popularity numbers will drop below 28%. The Gay Olympic Delegation Obama sent to the Russian Olympics will publicly demonstrate, embarrassing the entire USA Team. Articles of Impeachment may even be submitted to congress when everything about Benghazi, NSA, IRS and Obamacare LIES are seriously evaluated. Thank you Democrats for setting us back 10 years.
on December 20,2013 | 12:24PM
MakaniKai wrote:
Don't tease me keikamaui. If only your prediction could come true. Please add: no 2014 Hawaii vacation!!!!!
on December 20,2013 | 01:27PM
keikamaui wrote:
The writing is on the wall for Obama and the democrats in 2014. They are toast. "The most transparent administration in the history of the American Presidency" has turned out to be worse than the 1970s Nixon Administration. Propaganda and Lies and voter-fraud got Obama elected twice. We need an informed voter to straighten out this country. It's a shame most of the honest news comes from FOX and conservative talk radio and the internet...and not from our own President.
on December 21,2013 | 02:07AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
All's good. I heard I can keep my health care plan if I like it.
on December 20,2013 | 12:56PM
eoe wrote:
You sure can if it is not sub-standard garbage.
on December 20,2013 | 01:24PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
So far around 500,000 have lost their coverage. And now Obama repealed Obamacare. What a goat rope.
on December 20,2013 | 03:30PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
People like maneki will drop their plan for ACA, but won't admit it.
on December 20,2013 | 09:13PM
JKR wrote:
Nice headline - that's the problem. Typical of the press to give a big headline of good talk and then not hold him accountable. He is in the dire straits right now and then this headline pops up of what is basically is political or chearleading quote and tries to make it sound like it's all ok.
on December 20,2013 | 01:04PM
MakaniKai wrote:
Barry doesn’t care what the average kama’aina thinks. It will be golf, MCBH, shave ice – look at me photo ops maybe even a “selfie” with “elfie” his Uncle Neil. Day of departure cannot come soon enough. Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!
on December 20,2013 | 01:31PM
thepartyfirst wrote:
EOE- Fox News is #1. So what are you alluding to?
on December 20,2013 | 01:18PM
eoe wrote:
Yes, #1 in creating uniformed citizens. Fox News viewers in poll after poll are shown to be the least informed of any news outlet. In fact, the last poll on this topic found that Fox News viewers could only answer just 1.04 of 4 domestic questions correctly -- a figure which is worse than if they had reported watching no media at all.
on December 20,2013 | 01:28PM
Pacej001 wrote:
Uh, no, they don't.
on December 20,2013 | 05:26PM
eoe wrote:
There are 7 separate studies showing then in fact that fox viewers are less informed about the issues.
on December 21,2013 | 05:13AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
I watch Faux because I laugh to the fact they bash Obama every 30 seconds. This has been going on since he won. I am not kidding. The white saliva hitting the camera and bulging blue eyes makes my day because, they can't do a single thing about it except bull sheet.
on December 20,2013 | 09:17PM
syhud wrote:
Step down from the presidential office. Then America will have a breakthrough year sir.
on December 21,2013 | 03:22AM
HD36 wrote:
When Obama took office the Federal debt was $12 trillion and the Fed balance sheet was $800 billion. The Federal deficit is now over $17 trillion and the Fed's balance sheet is over $4 trillion. He has increased the debt more than all presidents before him combined. If you're a Paul Krugman follower, that debt doesn't matter, try max out all your credit cards, call them to raise the limit again, and see if that makes a difference in your life.
on December 21,2013 | 05:56AM
duna6430 wrote:
Did the first family visit the islands as often when we didn't pick up the tab?
on December 21,2013 | 06:29AM
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