Obama doubles down on 'Year of Action," in remarks to DNC
February 28th, 2014
12:32 PM ET
7 months ago

Obama doubles down on 'Year of Action," in remarks to DNC

Washington (CNN) – In a speech aimed at rallying his party's base, President Obama painted Republicans as only focused on "opportunity for a few" in an address laying out his vision for the midterm elections to fellow Democrats Friday night.

In a return to his "year of action" theme, the President discussed the upcoming release of his 2015 budget as well as what he thinks the party should be fighting for during remarks to the Democratic National Committee's Winter Meeting here in the nation's capital.

"The choice could not be clearer. Opportunity for a few or opportunity for all, that’s what this election is about. As Democrats, we have a different idea of what the future looks like – an idea rooted in our conviction that our economy grows best not from the top down, but from the middle out. That’s what an opportunity agenda offers," Obama said.

The President also continued to tout his 2014 approach to use executive actions to pursue his agenda.

"Obviously this is an election year. But an election that’s eight months away shouldn’t stop us from making progress right now. There are things that we could be doing right now to help the American people. And we shouldn’t be doing nothing because there’s an election coming up. I’ve said I want to work with Congress wherever I can – and there are places we can work together to get things done. But I’ve also shown that in this year of action, whenever I can act on my own to expand opportunity for more Americans, I will." Obama said.

In what may be a first for a sitting president, Obama also extended his authority into the discounted liquor arena.

“It’s Friday, it’s after 5 o’clock so this is now officially happy hour with the Democratic Party. I can do that, it is an executive action. I have the authority,” Obama said to a largely friendly audience that met his comment with cheers and laughter.

However, there was one unfriendly moment when a heckler interrupted him.

"Mr. Obama, tell us about your nuclear plan in Russia!" the heckler said according to a reporter authorized to cover the event for other news outlets.

Just an hour before the DNC event, Obama had made an unplanned statement at the White House about the volatile situation in Ukraine and the involvement of Russia’s military.

Obama had stated that he was "deeply concerned" by reports of Russian military movements inside Ukraine and that any violation of Ukraine's sovereignty would be "deeply destabilizing."

As the crowd at the DNC meeting applauded, Obama shouted back at the heckler.

“What the heck are you talking about?” Obama said. “I don't know about that plan, I don't know what you've been reading.”

“He thought happy hour started earlier,” Obama joked with the crowd.

Obama also focused on the budget, where he is proposing job creation efforts that are paid for in his administration's spending plan.

"Next week, I will send Congress a budget that will create new jobs in manufacturing, and energy, and innovation, and infrastructure.  And we’ll pay for every dime of it by cutting unnecessary spending, closing wasteful tax loopholes," Obama will say.

“As Democrats we believe that instead of tax breaks for the few, we should make investments that make it better for everyone.”

That budget pitch also came with another jab at the GOP.

"Republicans have a different view - just last month their party actually made it a part of their platform to let folks at the very top play by a different set of rules, and avoid paying their fair share by stashing their money in overseas tax havens, a practice that also adds billions of dollars to our deficits every year," Obama said.

The President also accused Republicans of obstructing Democratic Party priorities.

"The Republican Party can keep telling the country what they’re against – they’re against the Affordable Care Act, they’re against the minimum wage, they’re against equal pay laws, they’re against commonsense immigration reform, they’re against the very existence of climate change. But Democrats, we’re going keep telling America what we’re for – from giving America a raise to getting America covered.  Because the people we serve are not interested in leaders who are rooting for failure, they’re not interested in leaders who are only interested in fighting the old ideological battles.  They want us focused on their lives; their hopes; their aspirations for their kids.”

Obama also addressed the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. He admitted there were “disruptions” but hit back hard against Republican response to the bill.

“We lost that first month out of the gate. We’ve worked hard to fix problems that have come up, without any cooperation from (Republicans). In fact they complained when we fix them. Well, how dare you fix the things we were complaining about? And then we take steps to fix it. You’re a tyrant, you’re overreaching,” Obama said.

“Republicans in Congress have been obsessed with one thing above all else – no, not Ted Nugent - they have been obsessed with repealing the Affordable Care Act. You know what they say, 50th time is the charm. Maybe when you hit your 50th repeal vote, you will win a prize,” Obama said.

According to a new CNN Poll of Polls, compiled and released Friday, the President's approval rating has dropped 10 points from a year ago. The CNN Poll of Polls, which averages the most recent non-partisan, live-operator national surveys, indicates that 42% of Americans approve of the job he is doing. In February 2013, Obama's approval rating stood at 52%.

The President's remarks to the DNC come one day after Vice President Joe Biden gave a pep talk to party officials, urging Democrats to go on offense as the 2014 midterm election season heats up and adding that "my central message to you is look: I think we should not apologize for a single thing."

Democrats hold a 55-45 majority in the Senate (53 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party), but are defending 21 of the 36 seats up in November, with half of those Democratic-held seats located in red or purple states.

In the House, Democrats need to pick up 17 GOP-held seats to win back control of the Republican-led chamber, a feat political handicappers say is unlikely considering the shrinking number of competitive congressional districts.

CNN Senior White House Producer Matt Hoye, CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser and CNN's Cassie Spodak contributed to this report.

soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Tampa Tim

    I wish republicans would read their platform, so they can find out what they stand for. This shutting down the government and attacks on everyone who is not rich and white is getting the GOBaggers no where.

    February 28, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. Tampa Tim

    I think right wingnuts are so ashamed of the Republican Party, they are now claiming to be independents.

    February 28, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  3. Tampa Tim

    Hector – We will pay for your wars and unnecessary tax cuts for generations.

    February 28, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  4. The Real Tom Paine

    -smith

    @Tom P-When did I claim to love capitalism? Just my point of view of both parties right now. Both parties are failing the middle class.
    *****************
    point taken, but your phrasing implied otherwise. My mistake for taking it out of context. I do object to being labelled as the party of socialism when corporate welfare finds its staunchest defenders in the GOP.

    February 28, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  5. i'malib

    I cant wait to get my $2,500 rebate check for my free healthcare! Obama rocks!

    February 28, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  6. The Real Tom Paine

    -Hector Slagg

    Excuse me good buddy,
    Kinda hard to do anything if you don't have a job. You want people to build businesses so people can work. Then you want to Tax them to death. Same old story, first mentioned in Vaudville, WITH YOUR MONEY AND MY BRAINS, WE WILL GO PLACES. Same old Story. Liberal's and Democrats want to run the country, but they want the Conservatives and Republican's to pay for it. Life used to be good, until the people elected the lying Liberals. Sooner or later you will figure out that Republicans are your best friends. At least they can give you a job.
    **********************
    No Republicans will not give you a job. No one gives out jobs. They are created by demand, and its kind of hard to buy things when the jobs that are available don't pay enough to live on, raise a family, and pay for the necessities in life. I know you like to paint this scenario where the GOP created all these fabulous opportunities, but you're wrong. Republicans these days care only about themselves because they ceased caring about their communities generations ago. Its all about excluding people, not including them, because if it were, they would not treat billionaires as sacred objects who are beyond criticism and start focusing on reviving social mobility. We got to be the greatest nation on earth by listening to both Democrats and Repblicans who looked at the legacy they were leaving their children and grandchildren, and not from the hedonists that tell the GOP how our economy should only service the wealthy. Its about all of us, not the fortunate few who are already at the top.

    February 28, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Silly Willy wrote:

    @smith "Rudy- The GOP is about capitalism and the Dems are about socialism."

    I don't recall that being taught in my high school civics class, but thanks for sharing!
    -----------------------------------
    I suppose that it could be taught when you're home schooled. Poor brainwashed kids.

    The reason why no one can answer my question is simple. There is no answer. Republicans have never told us what they are actually for since Pres. Obama has been in the Oval Office, with one notable exception. "Our number one goal should be to make Pres. Obama a one-term president." And if you boil off the fat, even that "for" is actually just another "against".

    February 28, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. Tony

    In contrast, Republicans will double down on more commercials attacking Obamacare, featuring people like Julie Boonstra. Say, Republicans, if you want to attack Obamacare, shouldn't you find a person who is actually hurt by Obamacare? Julie Boonstra actually saves money under Obamacare. She saves $529 a month under her Obamacare plan, which amounts to $6,348 a year. Her new annual out-of-pocket maximum under Obamacare is $6,350. So she saves enough on premiums to cover pretty much her entire out-of-pocket maximum under Obamacare. Unless she paid less than $2 a year out of her pocket under her old plan ($6,350 -$6,348 = $2), she was paying more under her old plan than under her Obamacare plan.

    February 28, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  9. CryBabies

    TT...I know one thing all Americans should be for......That the President execute the laws and not change them to suit his agenda. Not too much to ask as thats the way the Constitution lays it out. But please, put your liberal rebuttal to that. i'm always looking forward to entertaining reasoning. By the way, winners may go to Florida and so do snakes. The Grapefruit league is slowly dissapating. The Cactus League venue is the place to be.

    February 28, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    smith

    @Tom P-When did I claim to love capitalism? Just my point of view of both parties right now. Both parties are failing the middle class.
    ---------------------------
    When? Three weeks ago today, when you told us that you wanted to see a McCain/Leiberman ticket in 2016. Your "Plan B" ticket was Thompson/Leiberman. If that doesn't mean pro-business and imperial capitalism, I don't know what does.

    February 28, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  11. Bill from GA

    bill – " Every single business venture has ended in the tax payers picking up the losses. "

    Have you ever heard of Tesla Motors? They paid off their $456 million loan in full last Fall. If you bothered to research before makeing such false statements, you might find other examples.

    Much of government's investment is not specific to a company, but to an entire industry. More than 100,000 Americans work in the solar energy industry, more than in coal mining.

    As a benefit that only Progressives will appreciate, we are also moving the country Forward. Maybe you would rather wait and buy the end product from China or Germany.

    February 28, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  12. TONE

    This President have made the republicans in congress looked stupid time and time again we all know this, so Tampa Tim they do not have to read anything, because they stand for stupidity we all know that jindal said it.

    February 28, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  13. Bill from GA

    Rudy NYC – " If you don't like Obama, blame Republicans for holding the door open for him to walk through it "

    repubs don't really have much to worry about; they've got the country pretty much on hold until they do get the White House back.

    Due to lack of voter turnout by Dem voters, the repubs took the House enabling them to stop most of Obama's agenda. Likely, unless the Dems find a way to get the lazy Dem voters off their butts this next election, the repubs will take the Senate.

    Instead of seriously focusing on turning out their voters, Dems are always crying about how evil the repubs are. As if anyone with one eye and half an ear wouldn't already know THAT!

    February 28, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    smith
    @Tom P-When did I claim to love capitalism? Just my point of view of both parties right now. Both parties are failing the middle class.

    What are your suggestions for improving this situation?

    February 28, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  15. smith

    @Rudy-I find good parts and bad parts with regards to capitalism and socialism. Its the same with the gop and dems. Seems like in todays politics you have to agree 100% with your party and I won`t do that. That`s why I like Joe Leiberman he is a true Independent.

    February 28, 2014 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  16. Bill from GA

    Fair is Fair – " I suppose you could go read the platform that came out of their convention in 2012. "

    Wasn't that the platform that was so right-wing radical that none of the candidates would claim it? Seems like that is how I remember it!

    February 28, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    CryBabies wrote:

    "Does anyone know what the Republican Party is actually for?"

    TT...I know one thing all Americans should be for......That the President execute the laws and not change them to suit his agenda. Not too much to ask as thats the way the Constitution lays it out. But please, put your liberal rebuttal to that.
    -------------------------
    "Hoo-Hoooo, Hoo-Hoooo" [owl noises in the deep forest]

    I have already excused the fact that you cannot answer the question because the Republican Party has yet to give us one.

    February 28, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  18. Bill from GA

    CryBabies – " TT...I know one thing all Americans should be for......That the President execute the laws and not change them to suit his agenda. "

    How bout the way the last president, all on his own,(wmaybeith a little help from HIS Attorney General and cheney) decides that TORTURE is OK? Did you like THAT?? Puts the USA in with a pretty nasty crowd.

    February 28, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  19. The Real Tom Paine

    CryBabies

    TT...I know one thing all Americans should be for......That the President execute the laws and not change them to suit his agenda. Not too much to ask as thats the way the Constitution lays it out. But please, put your liberal rebuttal to that. i'm always looking forward to entertaining reasoning. By the way, winners may go to Florida and so do snakes. The Grapefruit league is slowly dissapating. The Cactus League venue is the place to be.
    **************************************
    The Constitution lays out that the President is the head of the executive branch of government. Every president comes into the office with their own point of view and their own biases, and the Supreme Court and the Congress are there to put a brake on the President should the need arise. This president has issued far fewer executive orders than his predecessors, so your implication that he has not behaved according to his role as spelled out in the Constitution is a fantasy. A President without an agenda is not one that you want to have, since it implies weak rule and leaves the nation vulnerable to the kind of fracuring you see in other countries. You may not like his agenda, but to ask him to do your bidding when he is not required to simply because you dislike him is a ridiculous argument. The fact that you word it so vaguely tells me that you're simply reacting to his presence in the office, not out of a careful consideration of his policies or his stated policy aims. Screaming " socialism!" does not make his actions that of a socialist or a dictator, it makes him a president and you a participant in our system.

    February 28, 2014 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  20. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Well, at least SOMEBODY in DC is working AND it isn't ANY republicans. Leave it to the democrates to keep our country moving forward. The GOP has done NOTHING FOR FIVE YEArS and thinks we are going to realect them for more of the same. nO THANKS!!!!!!!!

    February 28, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  21. The Real Tom Paine

    -smith

    @Rudy-I find good parts and bad parts with regards to capitalism and socialism. Its the same with the gop and dems. Seems like in todays politics you have to agree 100% with your party and I won`t do that. That`s why I like Joe Leiberman he is a true Independent.
    *****************
    if you think we are in blanket agreement with our parties, then you are sadly mistaken, and its a lazy assumption on your part to think that is the case. Your comments put you far more frequently in the conservative camp than the liberal side, and it would be nice to see you display as much enthusasum in criticizing conservatives as you do with people that identify with the Democrats. Or is it that they are not worth engaging?

    February 28, 2014 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  22. Bill from GA

    " wmaybeith " was supposed to be 'with maybe' DuH

    February 28, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
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