Obama says 2013 hasn't been so bad for him - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Obama says 2013 hasn't been so bad for him

Updated:
WASHINGTON -

President Barack Obama says he's not brooding about 2013, despite a series of setbacks.
 
The president said at a year-end news conference from the White House Friday that as long as the economy is improving and he's helping families, he's OK.
 
Obama's approval rating has been at record lows recently. But he joked that in the seven years since he launched his presidential campaign, the media has, quote, "recorded 15 near-death experiences."
 
He acknowledged frustration that he didn't get the legislative reforms he wanted, specifically mentioning gun control and immigration. And he said his health care law hasn't worked the way it should have.
 
But he said he's going to keep working on his agenda and predicted 2014 would be "a breakthrough year for America."

Healthcare sign-ups

Obama says health insurance sign-ups have surged now that the government's website is working better.
 
More than a million people have picked a plan since Oct. 1, Obama said Friday, a big jump from the end of November when just 365,000 had signed up.
 
But HealthCare.gov was down again part of the day.
 
Unusually heavy web traffic is expected this weekend because of Monday's deadline to sign up so coverage can take effect Jan. 1.
 
Insurers say the government is still sending them inaccurate data, creating a risk when patients seek care.
 
Administration officials are scrambling to prevent coverage problems, especially among more than 4 million people whose individual policies were canceled this fall.
 
Separately, officials said 3.9 million people have qualified for coverage through expanded Medicaid.

Economy breakthrough

Obama singles out recent improvements in the economy and says 2014 could be a 'breakthrough year' for the United States.
 
Obama highlighted reports Friday that the economy grew at a 4.1 percent annual rate from July through September, higher than previously believed.
 
The economic news, while modest, has been a glimmer of light for Obama in an otherwise difficult year.
 
Obama also voiced support for proposed legislation that would extend unemployment benefits by three months. The benefits expire later this month for about 1.3 million Americans.
 
He says jobless assistance should be the first order of business for Congress in January.

NSA changes

Obama suggests he may be ready to rein in some of the bulk collection of Americans' phone records to allay the public's privacy concerns.
 
At an end-of-year news conference, Obama said he has not yet made any decisions about the National Security Agency's collection programs. But he offers the first indication that he may be willing to change some parts of the controversial program that collects and stores Americans' phone records. He says there may be "another way of skinning the cat."
 
One reform could be to stop the practice of government storing phone records for five years and shift that storage to phone companies.
 
Obama offered a broad defense of the surveillance programs that have been revealed in documents leaked by a former NSA systems analyst.

Iran sanctions

Obama is urging Congress to resist new sanctions against Iran because current agreements have a good chance to rein in that country's nuclear ambitions.
 
Obama told reporters Friday that Iran has agreed to actions that will let other nations determine whether it is trying to weaponize nuclear materials. Iran says the materials are for peaceful uses only.
 
The president said he would support tougher sanctions later if Iran violates the agreement.
 
He said it's politically popular for some lawmakers to look tough against Iran. Obama urged Congress to hold off and give current diplomacy a chance to work.
 
Israel says the current agreements are too lenient with Iran.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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