Barack Obama at his end-of-the-year news conference in the Brady press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington. — AP
United States President Barack Obama, citing an improving economy and the enrollment of one million people in his health-care plan, said the country was poised for a strong year in 2014.
Obama said economic progress made during the past year was helped by the Affordable Care Act and said his poll numbers, at the lowest point of his presidency, weren’t important.
“We head into next year with an economy that’s stronger than it was when we started the year, more Americans are finding work and experiencing the pride of a paycheck, our businesses are positioned for new growth and new jobs,” Obama said during a White House news conference. “And I firmly believe that 2014 can be a breakthrough year for America.”
The president’s remarks came amid signs the economy is growing. Gross domestic product rose during the third quarter at a revised 4.1 per cent annual mark, its fastest pace in almost two years, the Commerce Department said on Friday.
The president offered his expression of confidence in the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and assurance that Americans’ privacy won’t be invaded came during a one-hour White House news conference, the last planned before he and his family depart for a Hawaiian vacation.
As another national public opinion poll showed the president’s job approval at the lowest point of his presidency — a CNN survey released on Friday put his approval rating at 41 per cent — Obama said he is more concerned about maintaining progress on health care, jobs and other fronts.
The president said the botched rollout of the website signing people up for health insurance is his fault, yet said the programme offers promise for many.
“The health-care website problems were a source of great frustration,” the president said. “I now have a couple million people, maybe more, who are going to have health care on January 1, and that is a big deal. That’s why I ran for this office.”
“When it came to the health-care rollout,” he said, “the fact is, it didn’t happen in the first month, the first six weeks, in a way that was at all acceptable.”
He added: “And since I’m in charge, obviously we screwed it up.”
The agreement is the first bilateral trade deal between the Gulf and South America
Around 320 of 760 flights planned for Saturday had been cancelled so far