The Indianapolis Colts and New Orlean Saints weren't the only ones under pressure on Superbowl Sunday.
President Obama, wearing a casual blue button-down shirt and tan khakis, was grilled in a live, pre-game interview by CBS's Katie Couric on issues ranging from health care reform, national-deficit reduction, and national security.
The president defended his push for health care reform, saying health insurance premiums would "keep on beating down families, small businesses, large businesses -- it's going to be a huge drain on the economy. We're going to have to do something about it. I think we can."
He dismissed the notion he was starting back at "square one."
"What I want to do is look at the Republican ideas that are out there," he said. "I want to be very specific: 'How do you guys want to lower costs? How do you guys intend to reform the insurance markets so that people with preexisting conditions, for example, can get health care? How do you want to make sure the 30 million people who don't have health insurance can get it? What are your ideas specifically?'
"If we can go step-by-step through these issues, and arrive at some agreements, then procedurely there's no reason why we can't do it a lot faster than the process took last year," he said.
On health care reform Couric said people watched the "sausage being made, and quite frankly, it made them pretty sick to their stomachs."
"What is absolutely true is that getting something passed through Congress, with 535 members, is hard," the president said. "It's especially hard with something as big as health care."
Couric asked the president to respond to those who said there was no change in Washington.
The president cited making the White House visitor's log public for the first time in "the history of the Republic," eliminating lobbyists from boards and commissions, and encouraging more transparency on the recovery act and how taxpayer dollars are being spent.
"We have instituted a whole range of changes, that give people a lot more confidence in what we're doing," he said.
"But all these things take time. I'm not going to transform a culture in Washington, or anywhere else, over the course of a year. We're just going to keep chipping away at it, and that's what we've tried to do," he said.
On economic recovery, President Obama said it was not "happening as fast as we'd like."
"That's why there's still some things we can do, in terms of tax credits for small businesses, taking some of that TARP money that's been repaid and giving it to small community banks so they can lend it to small businesses, giving job credits to small businesses for hiring, potentially a million small businesses out there could get $5,000 for each employee they hire this year. All those things, I think, are moving us in the right direction."
On the federal deficit, the President said, "the honest assessment is this -- we had a big structural deficit even before the recession. The recession made it much worse. We're not going to solve this overnight. We don't want to either raise taxes or drastically slash government spending while the economy is still fragile."