Obama doubles down on 'Year of Action," in remarks to DNC
February 28th, 2014
12:32 PM ET
9 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. Rudy NYC

    The Republican Party can keep telling the country what they're against – whether it's the Affordable Care Act, or the minimum wage, or equal pay laws, or commonsense immigration reform, or the very existence of climate change.
    -----------------------
    Does anyone know what the Republican Party is actually for? If you tell me some meaningless nonsense about liberty, freedom and American way you're going to get laughed at. I'm asking for something concrete, not talking points.

    February 28, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  2. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    One of the best presidents in our nation's history!

    February 28, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    Reagan Trickle-Down was utter failure, let us try this new innovation middle up. Focus on green energy, infrastructure, manufacture, etc. No new wars though.

    February 28, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  4. bill

    obamaites are UN BEE LEAF A BULL-and a lot of bull. Every single business venture has ended in the tax payers picking up the losses. The battery company had $400,000,000 of our money and sold to a china company for $25,000,000. Clinton said that obama has never run any kind of a business and boy does it show. His ability to destroy jobs is second to nobody–even hillary is passing him up with obamacare. We voted in a man who nobody knew, research showed all the signs with terrorists and communists as his mentor, and now we pay the price. When obamacare was reported by the CBO that 2,500,000 jobs will be lost the obamaites said great-they can quit work because they get free–free-nothing is free–insurance and can start their own businesses. wow-those who work only to pay the $300 per month insurance fees are going to run out and risk the money they don't have with no business experience-sounds like obama being mulitiplied.

    February 28, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  5. Rusty Krus

    bill
    obamaites are UN BEE LEAF A BULL-and a lot of bull.

    Yearning for the good old days of George W. Bush? Get ready for 8 years of Hillary, and if we are lucky, 8 years of Michelle.

    February 28, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  6. sonny chapman

    Minimum Wage of $10 per hour !! THE key to growing Middle Class. Have Repubs. ever heard of Henry Ford ?

    February 28, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  7. Rick McDaniel

    Year of more dictatorship and more take over of America for socialism. By year's end......we will be lucky if we can use the toilet, without government permission.

    February 28, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  8. sonny chapman

    Grugyl- I agree with you on this one !!!

    February 28, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  9. The Real Tom Paine

    The GOP has declared this year to the " Year of Inaction": rather a lot like last year, and the year before, and the year before that...anyone see a pattern?

    February 28, 2014 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  10. salty dog

    And if you liked the last five years, your going to love the next eleven, don't forget to vote bill.

    February 28, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    bill

    obamaites are UN BEE LEAF A BULL-and a lot of bull. Every single business venture has ended in the tax payers picking up the losses. The battery company had $400,000,000 of our money and sold to a china company for $25,000,000. Clinton said that obama has never run any kind of a business and boy does it show. His ability to destroy jobs is second to nobody–even hillary is passing him up with obamacare. We voted in a man who nobody knew, research showed all the signs with terrorists and communists as his mentor, and now we pay the price. When obamacare was reported by the CBO that 2,500,000 jobs will be lost the obamaites said great-they can quit work because they get free–free-nothing is free–insurance and can start their own businesses. wow-those who work only to pay the $300 per month insurance fees are going to run out and risk the money they don't have with no business experience-sounds like obama being mulitiplied.
    --------------------------–
    Don't blame Obama. Blame your party for putting forth weak candidates. John McCain wasn't bad until he picked some unknown provincial politician named Sarah Palin, who clearly demonstrated that she was not ready for prime time.

    Mitt Romney wasn't bad until he opened his mouth and thought that he had secretly kicked 47% of Americans under the bus. Let's not forget his world tour. He mocked and laughed at by the Mayor of London. Almost caused an international incident in Poland(?) during a stop over on his way to Israel, where he crossed the line by taking domestic politics and fund raising overseas.

    If you don't like Obama, blame Republicans for holding the door open for him to walk through it. Republicans really haven't had a good ticket since 1988.

    February 28, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  12. smith

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

    February 28, 2014 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  13. Silly Willy

    @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!

    February 28, 2014 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  14. The Real Tom Paine

    -smith

    Rudy- The GOP is about capitalism and the Dems are about socialism.
    *****************************************
    So much for your vaunted independence, smith. Too bad the GOP is not longer about personal responsibility, or they would have realized the harm they are doing to the capitalist system you claim they love.

    February 28, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  15. Thomas

    Your article on helping minority young men. They are not the only ones that don't get a chance in the world. I have a son that has struggled without a dad and did not graduate from school. Finally received his GED. Has been in and out of prison and jail for 3 years. Mainly due to disorders and using street drugs to manage them. He is white. He is trying to get a job. No one will higher him. I am working 2 days a week. Lost my full time job a year ago and you are not extending unemployment. I am out of money in try to help him and I both live on very little money.

    February 28, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  16. Harold Read

    "Year if Action" = I don't care about what the US people want. I'm doing it anyways

    The Obama did such a fine job with the environmental companies like Solyndra and 123 Batteries, he'll have the same rate of success with this be this debacle. Where are the "shovel ready jobs?"

    BTW: Obamacare... "You can keep your policy. Period."

    February 28, 2014 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  17. Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    The Republican Party can keep telling the country what they're against – whether it's the Affordable Care Act, or the minimum wage, or equal pay laws, or commonsense immigration reform, or the very existence of climate change.
    -------–
    Does anyone know what the Republican Party is actually for? If you tell me some meaningless nonsense about liberty, freedom and American way you're going to get laughed at. I'm asking for something concrete, not talking points.
    ------
    I suppose you could go read the platform that came out of their convention in 2012. No one is asking you to agree with it, but at least you won't have to ask ad nauseum.

    February 28, 2014 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  18. Silence DoGood

    @bill " research showed all the signs with terrorists and communists as his mentor"
    ------
    "research" as used here likely refers to Glenn Back innuendo and some guys blog I saw once on the The Internet.

    "CBO that 2,500,000 jobs will be lost the obamaites said great-they can quit work" If someone quits, the job is likely available to someone else and not lost.

    February 28, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  19. The Real Tom Paine

    -Harold Read

    "Year if Action" = I don't care about what the US people want. I'm doing it anyways

    The Obama did such a fine job with the environmental companies like Solyndra and 123 Batteries, he'll have the same rate of success with this be this debacle. Where are the "shovel ready jobs?"

    BTW: Obamacare... "You can keep your policy. Period."
    *********************************
    the shovel-ready job money went to help people like Rick Perry balance their budgets retroactively. Christie cancelled one of those projects, as did Rick Scott, and they used the money to pay for tax cuts and pet projects to politcal friends. Giving a Republican access to federal dollars is a license to steal and pad a thin resume.

    BTW: Iraq: " Mission Accomplished". Has anyone died from Obamacare?

    February 28, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  20. The Real Tom Paine

    -Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    The Republican Party can keep telling the country what they're against – whether it's the Affordable Care Act, or the minimum wage, or equal pay laws, or commonsense immigration reform, or the very existence of climate change.
    ---–
    Does anyone know what the Republican Party is actually for? If you tell me some meaningless nonsense about liberty, freedom and American way you're going to get laughed at. I'm asking for something concrete, not talking points.
    --
    I suppose you could go read the platform that came out of their convention in 2012. No one is asking you to agree with it, but at least you won't have to ask ad nauseum.
    **************
    The GOP platform from 2012 is meaningless, since they can't seem to agree on anything anymore. There are a lot of buzzwords and slogans, but there is no philosophy anymore, no creatvity, only negativity, meaness, and ideological purity tests. You've commented on it yourself, Fair, so how come you dodged the question, or is it that you cannot give an answer yourself? I would love to hear your take on this, because I could at least read it without rolling my eyes.

    February 28, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  21. Silence DoGood

    @Fair is Fair
    Rudy NYC

    The Republican Party can keep telling the country what they're against – whether it's the Affordable Care Act, or the minimum wage, or equal pay laws, or commonsense immigration reform, or the very existence of climate change.
    ---–
    Does anyone know what the Republican Party is actually for? If you tell me some meaningless nonsense about liberty, freedom and American way you're going to get laughed at. I'm asking for something concrete, not talking points.
    --
    I suppose you could go read the platform that came out of their convention in 2012. No one is asking you to agree with it, but at least you won't have to ask ad nauseum.
    ---------
    We do have to ask because the platform is a lot of nice non-specific words that seem to keep coming back to "leave things as they were" and "reverse this and that". So it is NO in a word.

    And in practice they have literally said their primary goal is to stop and destroy Obama in the their extreme membership.

    February 28, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  22. Gurgyl

    @Harald Read, you all the times cry on Obamacare, did you read latest Bloomberg Businessweek? It is a huge success, stocks went to 47 percent. Why didn't Reagan and Bush pass Healthcare law? Even at that time insurance guys denied patients, Medicare fraud, Hospital overcharge, unneeded tests conducted, pharmacy looted, etc. We're they, I mean your republicans part of the fraud? Be happy, no one can deny your health insurance–if they, go to government run health-exchanges.

    February 28, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  23. 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.

    February 28, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    "I suppose you could go read the platform that came out of their convention in 2012. No one is asking you to agree with it, but at least you won't have to ask ad nauseum."
    ---------------------------
    For what? It is a rambling collection of talking ponts, which seem to declare war on everything and everybody everywhere. Besides, both the Romney campaign and the RNC denied that it had any relevance to what the Republican Party was about. I believe the word they both used was "meaningless."

    February 28, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  25. 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.

    February 28, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
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