Speaking from the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House today, President Obama delivered some brief remarks at his final press conference of the year before departing for the Hawaiian Islands for a two week vacation. Given the sorry state of his signature domestic achievement, Guy wonders why the president is leaving at all considering millions of Americans are fretting about the status of their health insurance. Will they be covered after the New Year? Some, of course, will not be. And by the time he returns from the beaches of Hawaii, it will be too late to enroll them. Fleeing the capital now might be a decision he later comes to regret.
In any case, after his initial remarks discussing the economy and next year’s budget, the president spent his end-of-the-year presser mostly defending his signature health care law and the controversial NSA program, which he promises to evaluate more fully after the New Year.
“The healthcare website problems were a source of great frustration,” he conceded. “On the other hand, since that time I now have a couple million people who are going to have health care on January 1. And that is a big deal. That is why I ran for that office.”
The president did his best to defend the much-pilloried federal overhaul. However, he did not mention anything about the millions of Americans who’ve lost their health care plans -- or might lose their health care plans -- in the New Year. He did add, however, that more than one million citizens signed up for health insurance on the exchanges over the past three weeks.
Meanwhile, he also addressed the public’s growing concerns about the controversial NSA surveillance programs.
“As you know the independent panel came back with a series of recommendations,” he said. “What we’re doing now is evaluating all the recommendation that have been made. Over the next several weeks we’re going to assess…how we might apply and incorporate their recommendations. And I’m going to make a pretty definite statement about this in January.”
He said he did not think that the NSA was “snooping” on Americans, but conceded that he understands the public is concerned about the program, and that more transparency on behalf of the government is to be expected.
Most significantly, perhaps, the president emphasized time and again that the economy is the strongest it’s been since he took office -- deflecting criticism from the Affordable Care Act -- and dodged whether or not 2013 was the worst year of his presidency.
“A lot of our legislative initiatives in Congress had not moved forward as rapidly as I’d like, which means I’m going to keep at it,” he said.
We'll see how that goes in the New Year.