President Obama’s Year End Press Conference – UPDATED with Transcript

On Friday, December 18th, President Obama will hold a press conference, billed as his year end press conference as the government “shuts down” for the winter holidays.

It won’t be a literal shutdown because the House this morning passed the spending piece of the omnibus appropriations bill (the tax piece was passed yesterday) clearing the way for the 2016 Budget to be passed by the Senate and signed into law. (UPDATE: The Senate passed the Omnibus by a vote of 65-33.)

President Obama on the 2016 election and the Paris accord:

I think we will have a strong Democratic nominee. I think that Democratic nominee will win. I think I will have a Democratic successor. And I will campaign very hard to make that happen — for a whole variety of reasons — because they’re far more likely to share my fundamental vision about where America should go.

But having said that, what I think people should also feel good about is that the agreement struck in Paris, although not legally binding when it comes to the targets that had been set, does create this architecture in which all around the world, countries are saying, this is where we’re going. We’re going to be chasing after this clean energy future. This is how we’re going to meet our goals. We’re going to double down on solar power. We’re going to double down on wind power. We’re going to invest more heavily in biofuels. We’re going to figure out battery technologies.

And what you saw in this budget, which I think was really significant, was an extension of the solar tax credits and wind tax credits that we had helped to really boost early on in my administration and that resulted in wind power increasing threefold, solar power increasing by twentyfold. […]

Keep in mind that, right now, the American Republican Party is the only major party that I can think of in the advanced world that effectively denies climate change. I mean, it’s an outlier. Many of the key signatories to this deal, the architects of this deal come from center-right governments. Even the far-right parties in many of these countries — they may not like immigrants, for example, but they admit, yes, the science tells us we’ve got to do something about climate change.

So my sense is, is that this is something that may be an advantage in terms of short-term politics and a Republican primary. It’s not something that is going to be a winner for Republicans long term.

From USA Today, on the 2016 Budget:

WASHINGTON — The House approved a massive government spending bill Friday morning, setting up Senate votes later in the day that are expected to send that measure and a package of tax breaks to President Obama for signing.

Friday’s House vote to pass the $1.1 trillion catch-all spending bill was 316-113. House lawmakers passed the $622 billion package of tax breaks on Thursday. Both measures will now be combined into one bill and sent to the Senate for final approval, ending legislative business for the year.

The White House said Obama would sign the legislation.

The tax and spending package contains a mix of conservative and liberal priorities that was generally viewed as an acceptable compromise.

The tax package, which includes new and renewed tax cuts for individuals and businesses that are especially popular with Republicans, passed the House 318-109 with 77 Democrats voting in favor. It permanently extends the enhanced child tax credit and earned income tax credit that were boosted by the 2009 economic stimulus, and extends through 2019 a popular corporate tax break that allows companies to more quickly depreciate the value of new equipment.

President Obama: “That is what makes America great — not just the words on these founding documents, as precious and valuable as they are, but the progress that they’ve inspired.”

Speaking at the National Archives, President Obama addresses 31 newly sworn in citizens.

What a remarkable journey all of you have made. And as of today, your story is forever woven into the larger story of this nation. In the brief time that we have together, I want to share that story with you. Because even as you’ve put in the work required to become a citizen, you still have a demanding and rewarding task ahead of you — and that is the hard work of active citizenship. You have rights and you have responsibilities. And now you have to help us write the next great chapter in America’s story. […]

America: A place where we can be a part of something bigger. A place where we can contribute our talents and fulfill our ambitions and secure new opportunity for ourselves and for others. A place where we can retain pride in our heritage, but where we recognize that we have a common creed, a loyalty to these documents, a loyalty to our democracy; where we can criticize our government, but understand that we love it; where we agree to live together even when we don’t agree with each other; where we work through the democratic process, and not through violence or sectarianism to resolve disputes; where we live side by side as neighbors; and where our children know themselves to be a part of this nation, no longer strangers, but the bedrock of this nation, the essence of this nation. […]

That is what makes America great — not just the words on these founding documents, as precious and valuable as they are, but the progress that they’ve inspired. If you ever wonder whether America is big enough to hold multitudes, strong enough to withstand the forces of change, brave enough to live up to our ideals even in times of trial, then look to the generations of ordinary citizens who have proven again and again that we are worthy of that.

President Obama speaks on the historic Paris climate accord – UPDATED with Transcript

Saturday, December 12, 2015 at 5:30pm Eastern


The problem is not solved because of this accord. But make no mistake, the Paris agreement establishes the enduring framework the world needs to solve the climate crisis. It creates the mechanism, the architecture, for us to continually tackle this problem in an effective way.

… I believe this moment can be a turning point for the world. We’ve shown that the world has both the will and the ability to take on this challenge. It won’t be easy. Progress won’t always come quick. We cannot be complacent. While our generation will see some of the benefits of building a clean energy economy — jobs created and money saved — we may not live to see the full realization of our achievement. But that’s okay. What matters is that today we can be more confident that this planet is going to be in better shape for the next generation.

From the White House:

Today, nations of the world have come together to announce a historic achievement: The most ambitious global agreement to combat climate change. 

The Paris Agreement establishes a long term, durable global framework to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. For the first time, all countries commit to putting forward successive and ambitious, nationally determined climate targets and reporting on their progress towards them using a rigorous, standardized process of review.

Weekly Address: President Obama – Standing Strong in the Face of Terrorism

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President praised our country’s resilience in the face of terrorism, and discussed how we will keep America safe. Our military has been stepping up its campaign to destroy ISIL, and our airstrikes are hitting ISIL harder than ever before. The President emphasized that we will continue to move forward on all fronts, which is why this week he will go to the Pentagon to review our military campaign, and to the National Counterterrorism center to review our efforts to prevent attacks. And he reminded us that we all have a part to play in the fight against terrorism – potential terrorist attacks have been prevented over the years because someone saw something and said something. Americans should not turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam, which is what ISIL wants and only serves to undermine our national security. The President praised Americans across the country who have come together to reaffirm our core values and stand up, forcefully, for freedom of religion.

President Obama: “Our freedom is bound up with the freedom of others”

From the White House:

On Wednesday, the President travelled to the U.S. Capitol to deliver remarks at an event commemorating the 150th anniversary of the 13th Amendment. The President was be joined by Members of both the House and Senate, including Congressional leadership and the Congressional Black Caucus, in marking this historic event.

(President Obama delivers remarks at the U.S. Capitol to commemorate the abolition of slavery in 1865.)


We gather here to commemorate a century and a half of freedom — not simply for former slaves, but for all of us.

Today, the issue of chattel slavery seems so simple, so obvious — it is wrong in every sense. Stealing men, women, and children from their homelands. Tearing husband from wife, parent from child; stripped and sold to the highest bidder; shackled in chains and bloodied with the whip. It’s antithetical not only to our conception of human rights and dignity, but to our conception of ourselves — a people founded on the premise that all are created equal. […]

… for decades, America wrestled with the issue of slavery in a way that we have with no other, before or since …

At its heart, the question of slavery was never simply about civil rights. It was about the meaning of America, the kind of country we wanted to be –- whether this nation might fulfill the call of its birth: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” that among those are life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The president described the long struggle to move from freedom to full citizenship, paying homage to the civil rights leaders, and ordinary men and women who pursued justice for people of color. He cited the uneven progress, the ugliness that still “bubbles up” and concluded:

our freedom is bound up with the freedom of others -– regardless of what they look like or where they come from or what their last name is or what faith they practice. (Applause.) To be honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. To nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of Earth. To nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of Earth. That is our choice. Today, we affirm hope.

Both sides DON’T do it!

Once again, the Fair and Balanced Media has declared that “Both Sides Do it” as they analyze the Trumpism phenomenon that is degrading American politics.

Margaret Chase Smith: ‘… I don’t want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny — Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry and Smear’. Sadly, there is no Margaret Chase Smith to bail your bony asses out this time, GOP. You drove all the Reasonable Republicans away.

President Obama – “Our success won’t depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values, or giving into fear”

From the Oval Office:


As a father to two young daughters who are the most precious part of my life, I know that we see ourselves with friends and coworkers at a holiday party like the one in San Bernardino. I know we see our kids in the faces of the young people killed in Paris. And I know that after so much war, many Americans are asking whether we are confronted by a cancer that has no immediate cure. […]

We will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us. Our success won’t depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values, or giving into fear. That’s what groups like ISIL are hoping for. Instead, we will prevail by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless, and by drawing upon every aspect of American power. […]

We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria. That’s what groups like ISIL want. They know they can’t defeat us on the battlefield. ISIL fighters were part of the insurgency that we faced in Iraq. But they also know that if we occupy foreign lands, they can maintain insurgencies for years, killing thousands of our troops, draining our resources, and using our presence to draw new recruits. […]

Here’s what else we cannot do. We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam. That, too, is what groups like ISIL want. […]

… it is the responsibility of all Americans — of every faith — to reject discrimination. It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country. It’s our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently. Because when we travel down that road, we lose. […]

My fellow Americans, I am confident we will succeed in this mission because we are on the right side of history. We were founded upon a belief in human dignity — that no matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like, or what religion you practice, you are equal in the eyes of God and equal in the eyes of the law. […]

Let’s not forget that freedom is more powerful than fear; that we have always met challenges — whether war or depression, natural disasters or terrorist attacks — by coming together around our common ideals as one nation, as one people. So long as we stay true to that tradition, I have no doubt America will prevail.

Full transcript below.