Obama hopes 2014 to be a breakthrough year

Washington, Dec 21: US President Barack Obama, after the end of his fifth year in the White House, Friday rejected 2013 as the worst year of his tenure, and expected 2014 to be “a breakthrough year for America”.

Speaking at his year-end news conference in the White House briefing room, Obama opened his remarks with the good news of the US economic growth and cited the latest improvement of the health plans sign-ups under his signature healthcare overhaul, Xinhua reported.

Asked if 2013 had been the worst of his presidency, he laughed and dodged the question. He downplayed the recent poll results, as his approval rating has slid to all-time low of his presidency.

“I’ve run my last political race. So at this point, my goal every single day is just to make sure that I can look back and say we’re delivering something, not everything, because this is a long haul,” he added.

Obama admitted that the problem with the health care website, which has been through a rocky rollout since Oct 1, was “a source of great frustration”.

“The fact is it didn’t happen in the first month, first six weeks, in a way that was at all acceptable. And since I’m in charge, obviously we screwed it up.”

But he moved quickly to stress that the enrollment number of the healthcare website has picked up pace in the past month, which he described as “a big deal”.

The figure outpaces the enrollment number for October plus November, and brings the total number under ObamaCare to over one million.

Several of the president’s domestic legislative priorities, including tightening up gun control, made little progress at Capitol Hill in 2013. Obama vowed to gain ground in the upcoming new year.

“We head into next year with an economy that’s stronger than it was at the start of the year,” Obama said, “I firmly believe that 2014 can be a breakthrough year for America.”

He regarded 2014 to be a “year of action” on moving forward the immigration reform, creating more jobs, and extending wages and benefits.

The latter half year of 2013 has also been dominated by breaking news of the leaks by former US defense contractor Edward Snowden about the National Security Agency’s top secret surveillance programs.

Obama defended the NSA’s domestic phone records programmes while promising some reforms in the upcoming new year.

He said he would review the reform recommendations by a presidential advisory panel during his holiday break starting Friday, and would make a “pretty definitive statement” in January about some reforms.

IANS