In his year-end news conference, President Obama declared he’s “never been more optimistic about a year ahead than I am right now.”
“And in 2016 I’m going to leave it out all on the field,” he said.
On terrorism at home, the president said people are “gonna have to recognize that no government is gonna have the capacity to read every single person’s texts or e-mails or social media. If it’s not posted publicly, then there are gonna be feasibility issues that are probably insurmountable at some level.”
“And, you know, it raises questions about our values,” he said. “I mean, keep in mind it was only a couple years ago where we were having a major debate about whether the government was becoming too much like Big Brother.”
Obama gloated that “years of steady implementation of the Affordable Care Act helped to drive the rate of the uninsured in America below 10 percent for the first time since records were kept.”
“On climate, our early investment in clean energy ignited a clean energy industry boom. Our actions to help reduce our carbon emissions brought China to the table and last week in Paris nearly 200 nations forged a historic agreement that was only possible because of American leadership. Around the world, from reaching the deal to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, to re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, to concluding a landmark trade agreement that will make sure that American workers and American businesses are operating on a level playing field and that we, rather than China or other countries, are setting the rules for global trade. We have shone what is possible when America leads,” he said. “And after decades of dedicated advocacy, marriage equality became a reality in all 50 states.”
Pressed on his goal to close Guantanamo, Obama said he’s “not going to automatically assume that Congress says no” to the plan he’ll be presenting to lawmakers.
“I think it’s far preferable if I can get stuff done with Congress,” he said. “…I think you’ve seen me, on a whole bunch of issues, like immigration, I’m not gonna — I’m not gonna be forward-leaning on what I can do without Congress before I’ve tested what I can do with Congress.”
“…Every battle I’ve had with Congress over the last five years have been — has been uphill, and — but we keep on surprising you by actually getting some stuff done.”
Obama said he thinks he has a “good working relationship” with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
“I will say that, in his interactions with me, he has been professional, he has reached out to tell me what he can do and what he cannot do,” he said. “…We recognize that we disagree on a whole bunch of other stuff, and have fundamentally different visions for where we want to move the country, but, perhaps because even before he was elected he had worked on Capitol Hill, I think he is respectful of the process and respectful of how legislation works.”