President Obama and aides are clearing the decks before his annual end-of-the-year trip to Hawaii.
Within the past 24 hours, the administration has launched a news flurry that includes:
— Changes in penalty assessments under the new health care law;
— An Obama order to the Pentagon to review and report on its efforts to end sexual assaults in the military;
— The formal nomination of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to be the next ambassador to China;
— Release of a homeland security department inspector general's report saying there is no evidence of widespread misconduct within the Secret Service.
The White House also scheduled a presidential news conference for 2 p.m. Friday.
And the president on Friday will sign the two-year budget deal approved by Congress this month.
In the early evening, Obama and his family board Air Force One for the trip to Hawaii.
These are among the last moves in what has been a frustrating year for Obama and the White House.
Next year, with a revamped staff and presumably some rest, Obama appears to be looking for a fresh start.