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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Secret Service Head: White House Security Lapse 'Unacceptable'

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after a recent intrusion at the White House: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid