Obama on His Final Stretch: 'I'm Going to Squeeze Every Last Ounce of Progress'

By Susan Jones | July 1, 2015 | 6:52am EDT
President Barack Obama appears in the Rose Garden on Thursday, June 25, 2015, to speak after the Supreme Court upheld a key element of his signature legislation. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(CNSNews.com) - "How am I going to spend whatever political capital that I've built up?" Obama asked rhetorically at a news conference on Tuesday.

"You know, the list is long, and my instructions to my team and my instructions to myself have always been that we are going to squeeze every last ounce of progress that we can make when I have the privilege of -- as long as I have the privilege of holding this office.

Obama mentioned new overtime rules he's planning to issue: "That's going to give a raise to 5 million people potentially in this country who really deserve it," he said.

He mentioned rebuilding the nation's infrastructure, saying he wants to work with Congress to "put people back to work" on road, bridge and other projects.

"I am really interested in the possibilities, the prospect of bipartisan legislation around the criminal justice system, something that I think directly speaks to some of the themes that I mentioned on Friday." (In his eulogy for the Reverend Clementa Pinckney in Charleston, S.C. last Friday, Obama mentioned racial bias, and the tens of thousands of young men "caught up in the criminal justice sytem." He also  mentioned "gun violence," saying "the vast majority" of Americans, including gun owners, "want to do something about this.")
On Tuesday, Obama said, "I want to keep on making progress on job training and making sure that the idea of two years of free community college starts taking root. And the list is long. And what we're going to do is just keep on hammering away at all the issues that I think are going to have an impact on the American people.

"Some of them will be left undone, but we're going to try to make progress on every single one of them," he promised.

"One of the things I've learned in this presidency is that there are going to be ups and there are going to be downs. But as long as my focus and my team's focus is on what is going to make a difference in the lives of ordinary Americans -- are we going to give them more opportunity so that if they work hard, they can get ahead; are we going to make this a more inclusive economy, a more inclusive society, a more fair, just society -- if that's our North Star and we keep on tacking in that direction, we're going to make progress.

"And I feel -- I feel pretty excited about it. So I might see if we can make next week even better."

Earlier, Obama was asked if last week was the best week he's ever had, given the Supreme Court rulings upholding Obamacare subsidies and same-sex marriage, as well as the Republican-led Congress helping him get the trade legislation he wanted.

Obama indicated it probably wasn't his best week overall -- but he did call it "gratifying.:

"In terms of my best week, now my best week, I will tell you, was marrying Michelle. That was a really good week. Malia and Sasha being born, excellent weeks...There was a game where I scored 27 points. That was a pretty good week.

"I've had some good weeks in my life, I will tell you. And I'm blessed to have had those. I think last week was gratifying," he said, calling it "simply a culmination of a lot of work that we've been doing since I came into office."

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