Friday, December 18, 2015

Obama takes victory lap at year-end presser: 'We have shown what is possible when America leads'

President Obama cheered America's leadership around the world and gains made by Congress here at home, saying he has never been “more optimistic” about the year to come at his year-end press conference in the White House briefing room.

Obama said his administration's "steady, persistent work is paying off" for Americans before running down a list of accomplishments that included private-sector job growth, a falling unemployment rate, a continued reduction in the nation's uninsured, and the fact that "marriage equality became a reality in all 50 states." Internationally, he hailed the Climate deal, the Iran nuclear deal, steps toward normalizing relations with Cuba, and a "landmark trade agreement."

"We have shown what is possible when American leads," he said.

The president also had kind words for Congress, congratulating lawmakers on passing an education bill, a transportation bill, putting the Export-Import Bank "back to work," and finally the trillion-dollar budget bill. ”I’m not wild about everything in it,” he conceded, but he added that it “eliminates the possibility of a shutdown” for the first nine months of next year.

In the "still to do" category, Obama mentioned job growth and criminal justice reform. Just before taking the podium, the White House announced that the president has commuted the sentences of 95 individuals.

Obama added that "our most important job is to keep Americans safe." Pounding home points he has consistently made over the past week, he said ISIS continues to lose ground on the territory they control and that the U.S. continues to hit ISIL “harder than ever."

The president was due to fly to San Benardino Friday afternoon to meet with the families and victims of the recent massacre there before heading to a family vacation in Hawaii for the holidays.

The president ended his roundup of the achievement by sounding a positive note for the coming year. "Since taking this office, I've never been more optimistic about a year ahead than I am right now," Obama said.

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