President Barack Obama says ensuring that the U.S. financial system did not collapse was the most important thing his administration did in his first year in office.

The president spoke in an interview with The Washington Post newspaper.

In the article published Wednesday, Mr. Obama said a lot of the promises he has made have been kept, saying that when they are complete, the country will have achieved a "fundamental shift" in health care, energy, education and the U.S. financial regulatory system.

Mr. Obama said he is "very enthusiastic" about what has been achieved on health care reform, which he has made a top domestic priority.  The Senate votes Thursday on landmark legislation.  The House of Representatives passed its version of a reform bill last month.

The president noted other first-year achievements, including ensuring equal pay, expanding hate crimes categories and extending health insurance to an additional four million children.

The president took office in January, and enjoyed extremely high approval ratings that have now dipped below 50 percent.

The Pew Research Center says public opinion on the president and his policies continues to be divided as Americans worry about the war in Afghanistan, the economy, health care and other topics.  The Washington-based center said Mr. Obama's approval rating was 64 percent in February, while its latest poll shows it at 49 percent.