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Obama tells PBS he's shown he can make tough decisions

President Obama says the health care bill should not be judged as half a loaf, but as "95 percent of a loaf."
President Obama says the health care bill should not be judged as half a loaf, but as "95 percent of a loaf."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • President Obama looks back on first year in office
  • He says he's not satisfied with high unemployment
  • "I don't pat myself on the back," Obama says
  • But, he says, "I can make hard decisions, even when they're not popular"

Washington (CNN) -- President Obama said he wouldn't pat himself on the back for his first year in office, but said Wednesday he showed he can make tough decisions that were unpopular.

In a year-end interview with PBS, Obama said he was "entirely dissatisfied" with the high unemployment rate still facing Americans as the economic recession ends.

"I don't pat myself on the back," Obama said. But his administration deserved credit for making good decisions on major problems it inherited, including the recession, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other issues, he said.

Without specifying any issue, Obama said he demonstrated that his administration was willing to face tough decisions.

"I think I've shown this year that I can make hard decisions, even when they're not popular," the president said.

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Last month, Obama decided to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan to bolster the counterinsurgency strategy favored by military commanders on the ground. The move was criticized by some fellow Democrats and favored by most Republicans.

Obama also moved forward on plans to shut the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility and bring some suspected terrorists held there to a U.S. prison in Illinois. The plan has been heavily criticized by Republicans.

In addition, the president made health care reform his domestic priority for 2009 and endorsed sweeping provisions contained in a bill passed by the House and on the verge of final passage by the Senate.

Republican opposition to the health care legislation has been almost unanimous, and concessions made during the Senate debate have caused some Democrats to question the value of the measure scheduled for a final vote on Thursday.

Obama rejected criticism from some liberals that a final bill would be too watered down, saying in the PBS interview that the bill delivered most of the benefits he listed when the debate began back in January.

"This notion that somehow this health care bill that's emerging should be grudgingly accepted by Democrats as half a loaf" is wrong, Obama said. "This is 95 percent of the loaf."