President Barack Obama on Friday tried to set expectations for what he called a "year of action" in 2014. The president held a press conference and took on some of the scandals and setbacks of his second term. Our Washington, D.C. reporter Geoff Bennett has the story.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Obama, in his final news conference of 2013, put a positive spin on what has been a very difficult year.
"Has this been this worst year your Presidency?" a reporter asked.
President Obama replied, "Um, I got to tell you Julie, that’s not how I think about it. I've been in office five years. We have had ups and downs. This room has recorded at least 15 near death experiences. What I have been focused on is are we moving the ball in helping the American people families having more security to feel as if they work hard they can get ahead."
Much of the news conference was consumed by the President’s biggest second term setback, the disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s online exchanges.
"The fact is it didn't happen in the first month, in the first six weeks, in a way that was at all acceptable and since I am in charge, obviously we screwed it up," Obama said.
The President said more than one million people have enrolled in health care since October 1st, even as his administration scaled back yet another part of the overhaul. The White House announced late Thursday that Americans who lost their health coverage won’t face a penalty if they don't buy insurance next year.
Obama said, "When you try to do something this big, affecting this many people, it’s going to be hard."
President Obama also defended the controversial surveillance practices of the National Security Agency and said he’d soon put out a statement about new reforms.
"I have confidence in the fact that the NSA is not engaging in domestic surveillance or snooping around, but I also recognize that as technologies change and people can start running algorithms and programs that map out all the information that we're downloading on a daily basis onto our telephones and our computers that we have to refine this further to give people confidence," Obama said.
Looking ahead to next year, the president said he wants to finish retooling the broken immigration system, vowed to stand firm against Republicans over raising the debt ceiling and shared with reporters his New Year’s resolution.
"Be nicer to the White House press corps," he said.
After the press conference, the president left Washington, D.C. to begin his two week winter vacation in Hawaii.