Obama Points to 'Signs of Progress' in Economy

"We invest in the renewable sources of energy that will lead to new jobs, new businesses, and less dependence on foreign oil. We invest in our schools and our teachers, so that our children have the skills they need to compete with any workers in the world. We invest in reform that will bring down the cost of health care for families, businesses and our government," Obama said of the $3.6 trillion outline he released last month.

Republicans on Capitol Hill have blasted the president's budget as too expensive and irresponsible, because of the $7-$9.3 trillion national debt his proposals are projected to create over the next 10 years. Tonight the president fired back at his critics, saying they have "a short memory."

"As I recall, I'm inheriting a $1.3 trillion deficit, annual deficit, from them," Obama said.

Obama was pressed on the reports that Senate Democrats are writing a budget that does not include the middle-class tax cut that was included in his stimulus package. The president would not say if he would sign off on a budget bill if that measure is excluded, but did note that the tax cut would be in place for two years because it was written in the recovery bill.

"We never expected, when we printed out our budget, that they would simply Xerox it and vote on it. We assume that it has to go through the legislative process," Obama said. "I have not yet seen the final product coming out of the Senate or the House, and we're in constant conversations with them."

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.

On the global financial crisis, the president expressed his confidence in the American dollar and said the reason it is performing well against other currencies is because "investors consider the United States the strongest economy in the world with the most stable political system in the world."

Obama said he did not believe there was a need for a global currency, pushing back against the suggestion by Chinese officials ahead of the G20 financial summit next week in London.

Iraq, Afghanistan Not on Reporters' Agenda

While it was expected that the economy would dominate the news conference, it was noteworthy that Obama was not asked a single question about Iraq, a sharp departure from press conferences during the Bush administration.

He was also not asked about the announcement his administration is expected to make later this week on a new policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Part of that policy will be the addition of about 17,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan by the end of August, to increase the presence there to about 64,000. The mission is to aggressively pursue al Qaeda and prevent it from maintaining a stronghold in Afghanistan.

The plan will call for U.S. forces to go after the Taliban only if is providing safe haven to and cooperating with al Qaeda.

Vice President Joe Biden and other senior foreign policy envoys have been consulting with allies as part of the administration's strategic review of its policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Obama's 'Dialogue With the American People'

The administration has shown a willingness to take the president out of Washington and have him speak directly to the American public, an apparent effort to maintain control of its economic message.

Last week, Obama traveled to California to participate in two town hall meetings.

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