"I've emphasized repeatedly what I expect out of this budget. I expect that there's serious efforts at health-care reform and that we are driving down costs for families and businesses, and ultimately for the federal and state governments that are going to be broke if we continue on the current path," the president said. "I haven't seen yet what provisions are in there. The bottom line is ... that I want to see health care, energy, education and serious efforts to reduce our budget deficit."
The four key pillars contained in his budget proposal are health care, energy reform, education and deficit reduction.
Obama said he was "confident" that the budget outline that will pass Congress will contain a blueprint for his principles on health care, energy and education reform and today, lawmakers resonated that confidence too, saying they play to include those provisions in the budget.
More than half of the 50-minute prime-time news conference was dedicated to the economy. Among the 13 questions reporters posed to him, none were about Iraq or Afghanistan -- a subject that dominated President George W. Bush's news conferences.
"I want to give everyone who's watching tonight an update on the steps we're taking to move this economy from recession to recovery, and ultimately to prosperity," Obama said in his 10-minute opening statement.
With his staff looking on as the president delivered his remarks in the East Room of the White House, Obama told Americans that with jobs, interest rates and lending, glimmers of hope appear on the horizon.
"We're beginning to see signs of progress," he said.
For every action his administration has taken, he described a positive economic result that had resulted from it so far. Some of the "signs of progress" he tied to his economic plans: The recovery plan has created jobs and provided a tax cut that 95 percent of Americans will start seeing in their paycheck by April 1; the administration's housing plan has led to a jump in refinancings; and restarting the flow of credit to families and businesses has already secured more lending in the last week than in four months combined, the president said.
The economy no doubt was the highlight of the news conference.
"I think that the last 64 days have been dominated by me trying to figure out how we're going to fix the economy, and that affects black, brown and white," he said.
He said that on Inauguration Day there was "justifiable pride on the part of the country that we had taken a step to move us beyond some of the searing legacies of racial discrimination" in the country but "that lasted about a day."
President Obama occasionally showed flashes of irritation when pressed on the delay in his response to the AIG bonus controversy.
"It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I am talking about before I speak," the president said in response to a question on why the state of New York seemed to be taking quicker action on AIG than the White House.
On Wednesday, the president is expected to send a draft legislation to the Hill that gives the Treasury more power to take over large financial institutions in serious trouble.
President Obama said his philosophy was persistence.