Obama took to the podium for his end-of-the-year news conference on Friday (Dec. 20). During his speech, the 44th president fielded questions from reporters and addressed his low polls, the economy, Obamacare, the nation’s “broken immigration system,” and the NSA surveillance program. The questions were tough for a president, some say, who just faced the toughest — or worst — year of his presidency.
Obama attempted to start things on the up. “In 2013 our businesses created another 2 million jobs, adding up to more than 8 million in just over the past 45 months,” he said, noting it was the “strongest pace in nearly two years.” Obama also said that the unemployment rate is at “its lowest point in five years,” and that deficits are less than half of what they were when he first took office. He ended by adding, “And I firmly believe that 2014 can be a breakthrough year for America.”
But then came the questions…
“Health care rollout obviously had huge problems, and your ratings from the public are near historic lows for you. When you take this all together, has this been the worst year of your presidency?” asked Julie Pace of AP.
“On surveillance, you looked the American people in the eye six months ago and said, we’ve got the right balance. And six months later, you’re saying, maybe not?” asked Fox News’ Ed Henry.
“You’ve acknowledged the difficulties with the health care rollout, but when you look back and you look at the decisions that you have made and what you did, what you didn’t do, for you personally, what do you think has been your biggest mistake? asked ABC’s Jon Karl.
Although earlier in his speech Obama admitted he wished that “Congress had moved more aggressively” in passing background checks after the Newtown tragedy, and that their failure to do so “was a mistake,” it was the health care rollout that Obama considered his biggest blunder.
“Well, there’s no doubt that — that when it — when it came to the health care rollout, even though I was meeting every other week or every three weeks with folks and emphasizing how important it was that consumers had a good experience, an easy experience in getting the information they need and knowing what the choices and options were for them to be able to get high-quality, affordable health care, the fact is it didn’t happen in the first month, the first six weeks, in a way that was at all acceptable. And since I’m in charge, obviously, we screwed it up,” he said of his biggest 2013 mistake.
Obama said that the problems with the Obamacare website came down to IT and those in charge not “cracking the whip on a whole bunch of contractors.” He promised he’d be making adjustments in 2014, but was affirmative about millions of people now having health care “that works.”
Tell us — Do you think that 2013 was Obama’s worst year?