News / USA

Obama Hails 'Season of Progress' in Year-End News Conference

President Obama speaks at year-end news conference, 22 Dec 2010
President Obama speaks at year-end news conference, 22 Dec 2010

President Barack Obama says accomplishments in the final days of the U.S. congressional session, and cooperation with opposition Republicans, raise hopes of getting more done for Americans in the new year.

Just after the November mid-term congressional elections, President Obama spoke about what he called the "shellacking" his Democratic party suffered at the hands of Republicans, who won control of the House of Representatives with a gain of 63 seats.

Obama has since made what many political analysts say has been a remarkable political comeback, one the White House hopes will help him during the next phase of his presidency on the way to the 2012 presidential election.

The president's compromise with Republicans on extending lower tax rates, including those for wealthy Americans, subjected him to the wrath of far left Democrats.  But he emerged in many respects looking stronger and more independent.

On Wednesday, Obama pointed to two other victories -- repeal of the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy on gays and lesbians serving in the U.S. military, and the 71 to 26 U.S. Senate vote ratifying the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia.

He said these and other accomplishments in the "lame duck" session of Congress are proof that leaders in Washington are not "doomed to endless gridlock" "This has been a season of progress for the American people.  That progress is a reflection of the message that voters sent in November, a message that said it is time to find common ground on challenges facing our country.  That's a message that I will take to heart in the new year and I hope my Democratic and Republican friends will do the same," he said.

The president called U.S. Senate ratification of the New START treaty a "powerful signal" to the world that Republicans and Democrats stand together when it comes to U.S. security.  He said it will enhance cooperation with Moscow on issues such as sanctions against Iran and preventing terrorists from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Obama voiced deep disappointment with lawmaker's failure to approve the DREAM Act, which would have provided a path to citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants.  He indicated he will continue to push for its approval in a new Congress.

The president predicted "tough fights" ahead as part of what he called a coming robust debate about cutting government spending and inefficient programs, while maintaining investments needed for economic recovery and long-term growth.

Looking ahead to next year when he will face a Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a reduced majority in the Senate, the president said he hopes Democrats and Republicans can find enough common ground to help Americans.

"We don't have to agree 100 percent to get things done that enhance the lives of families all across America.  If we can sustain that spirit then regardless of how the politics play out in 2012, the American people will be better for it, and that is my ultimate goal," he said.

Saying the U.S. economy is past the crisis point, Obama said again that his main focus in the next two years will be to bring down unemployment and ensuring the U.S. can be competitive.

Saying he shares the frustration of many Democrats over his tax deal with Republicans, the president said in the "long-run" the U.S. cannot afford "a series of tax breaks" for wealthier Americans, adding this would be part of a debate beginning when the new Congress convenes.

After Wednesday's news conference, and as Congress concluded its work, President Obama left Washington for Hawaii where his wife Michelle and daughters, Sasha and Malia have already begun their holiday vacation.  

Obama is expected to spend time going over drafts of the State of the Union Address he will deliver to a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the new year.   

The importance of that speech has been elevated given the challenges the president faces with the U.S. economy, pursuing goals such as comprehensive immigration reform, and preparing Americans for the tough decisions he says will be needed to address the $1.3 trillion dollar federal government deficit, and nearly $14 trillion national debt.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs