4:48 pm: That's the end of the press conference.
Obama wishes reporters a happy holiday season.
"See ya in 2011."
4:46 pm: "It's become a symbol. We can do just as good of a job holding [detainees] somewhere else," he says of Gitmo.
4:44 pm: Next question is on status of Gitmo closing, a major White House initiative that has not been accomplished.
Gitmo is "number one recruitment tool used by thsese jihadist organizations," Obama says.
"My administration has been as aggressive going after al Qaida as any out there," he adds.
4:43 pm: Obama: "I am persistent. If I believe in something strongly, I stay on it. And I believe strongly in this."
4:42 pm: "We need to reform this immigration system." Says we should be able to get the DREAM Act done "at minimum." Some Republicans know that this is "the right to thing to do" but think the politics "is too tough for them," Obama says. Very passionate on this issue.
4:41 pm: On children who came to the country illegally as children and cannot become citizens despite serving the U.S.: "That can't be who we are."
4:41 pm: Obama calls failure of DREAM Act "maybe my biggest disappointment."
4:40 pm: Obama says he wants to "immediately engage with Republicans" on energy policy.
4:39 pm: While we "celebrate wealth" in this country, we should also reward those who contribute to the community without getting rich, Obama says.
4:37 pm: A thriving middle class has always been "the greatest strength of America."
4:36 pm: On the tax cut deal: "Compromise by definition means taking things you don't like ... the overall package was the right one."
4:34 pm: Obama reiterates his stance on tax cuts for the wealthy despite his recent two year compromise extension with the GOP: "I don't think that over the long run we can afford a series of tax breaks for people who are doing very well."
4:31 pm: Republicans recognize that "with greater power comes greater responsibility."
4:30 pm: Obama's "evolve" line on gay marriage is similar to one he gave to progressive bloggers in October. From the WSJ:
“Attitudes evolve, including mine,” he said Wednesday in an interview at the White House with five liberal bloggers. “I think that it is an issue that I wrestle with and think about because I have a whole host of friends who are in gay partnerships. I have staff members who are in committed, monogamous relationships, who are raising children, who are wonderful parents. And I care about them deeply.”
He said he was not prepared to reverse his position at that very moment, but said he thinks a lot about the issue
4:29 pm: Next question invokes Obama's oft-quoted "car in the ditch" analogy about working with Republicans.
He says the car is out of the ditch, on the ground. The focus is no longer saving the economy from crisis, but "jumpstarting the economy" to make a dent in unemployment.
4:27 pm: Part B of question two: Should gays and lesbians be allowed to marry?
"My feelings about this are constantly evolving ... I've struggled with this," Obama says, noting that he has friends who are in strong "long lasting" gay unions.
Says he will "continue to wrestle with this going forward."
4:26 pm: Next question: What was your conversation like with Marine Corps Commandant James Amos, who opposed the DADT repeal?
Obama says he told Amos he was confident, looking at the history of the armed forces, that repeal could be managed.
He adds that he has spoken to the military service chiefs since the vote and that they have pledged to implement the policy "smartly."
4:26 pm: "What we've shown is that we don't have to agree on 100% to get things done that enhance the lives of families all across America."
4:25 pm: First question: "Are you ready to call yourself a comeback kid?"
Obama says what has happened in past several weeks "was not a victory for me, it was a victory for the American people."
The past weeks show that the two parties can "ultimately find common ground to move the country forward" despite arguments, he says.
4:24 pm: One lesson of the lame duck: "We are not doomed to endless gridlock."
He notes that there will be tough fights in the months ahead ("I'm not naive," he says) ... but hopes for "a spirit of common purpose in 2011 and beyond."
4:23 pm: He says he's disappointed in the failure of the DREAM Act and a long-term budget.
4:22 pm: Obama calls lame duck session "the most productive post-election period we have had in decades."
4:21 pm: Obama recalls that START backer Dick Lugar was his companion on his first overseas trip as a senator. You can read about Obama's relationship with Lugar in this October 2008 article on Msnbc.com.
4:20 pm: Bipartisan START vote "sends a powerful signal to the world" that Republicans and Democrats stand together on national security, says Obama.
4:19 pm: Obama hails passage of START treaty: "the most significant arms control treaty in nearly two decades."
4:18 pm: Obama: This has been a season of progress for the American people.
4:17 pm: The president just came to the podium. Says he, like many in the press corps, is "itching" to get out of town to celebrate the holidays.
4:00 pm ET: With members of Congress finally jetting off to their home states after a last-minute blast of legislative activity, President Barack Obama is getting ready for his own Hawaiian vacation. But not before he holds a year-end press conference this afternoon at around 4:15 pm ET.
The administration can now boast wins on almost all of its lame duck-agenda goals. The ink of the president's signature on a bill to repeal the 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' policy is barely dry; the START treaty won ratification by a comfortable margin just more than an hour ago; and a health bill to aid 9/11 first responders is pending final passage in the House this afternoon.
We'll be live-blogging the press conference here, so stay tuned.