FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2012, file photo, President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington. President Barack Obama commands center stage in a political year so far dominated by Republican infighting, preparing to deliver a State of the Union address that will go right to the heart of Americans' economic anxiety and try to sway voters to give him four more years in office. He is expected to urge higher taxes on the wealthy, propose steps to make college more affordable and of
Obama Speaks on Russia, Snowden, Healthcare
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama says he's encouraging Russian President Vladimir Putin to, "think forward instead of backwards" in strained relations with the United States.
Obama held a White House news conference Friday. Obama says he realizes relations between the two super powers have been difficult lately. He says progress was being made until Putin regained the Russian presidency. Now Obama says there have been "a number of emerging differences," including over Syria and human rights.
The White House this week cancelled a planned summit between Obama and Putin next month in Moscow. That's in part because Russia is refusing to return National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden to the U.S. to face charges of leaking national security secrets.
Obama says National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden is not a patriot for revealing widespread government surveillance programs.
Obama says he called for a review of the secret surveillance programs before details of documents Snowden leaked to reporters were publicized in June. He says Snowden's disclosures prompted a faster and more passionate response than if Obama had just appointed a board to review the policies.
The President also spoke on healthcare reform.
Obama defended his recent one-year delay in the law's employer coverage requirement as a "tweak" that will ultimately help implement the legislation with fewer disruptions for businesses.
Obama chastised some Republicans who advocate a government shutdown this fall as a last-ditch effort to block the rollout of coverage for the uninsured. He says that's a "bad idea" that will weaken the economy as a recovery is getting traction.
The president says that health care politics have gotten so overheated that the discussion of "Obamacare" doesn't take place in a normal atmosphere.
He doesn't think congressional Republicans will force a government shutdown in this fall's budget fight.
Obama said that the public would not understand a budget confrontation that leads to a cutoff of government services that could weaken the economy's recovery. He said he assumes Republicans won't choose that path and that common sense will prevail.
Obama and his Democratic allies favor higher spending for federal agencies next year than Republicans prefer. Many conservatives are also demanding that Congress refuse to finance Obama's health care overhaul law as part of legislation funding the government for next year.
Financing for federal agencies expires Sept. 30. Congress is expected to pass temporary funding legislation to give the two sides time to seek a deal.
Obama also says he is "absolutely certain" that the Senate's comprehensive immigration bill would pass the House if majority Republicans brought it up for a vote. But Republicans say they'll bring up a series of narrow bills instead.
He would like to see the House act on the Senate bill in September, as soon as they return from summer recess. He urged the House to put forward a bill that could pass, even if does not match the Senate bill. The versions could be reconciled later. Obama says no bill would solve the nation's immigration problem 100 percent.
The Senate-passed bill would include billions for border security and a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.