Obama Sees Sign of Economic Progress, but ‘Times are Still Tough’

In his most comprehensive speech to date on the state of the economy and the current financial crisis, President Barack Obama said in a speech Tuesday at Georgetown University in Washington that his economic-stimulus package and plans to recapitalize banks and revive housing are starting to “generate signs of economic progress.” The President however, warned of tough times ahead.

“There is no doubt that times are still tough. But by no means are we out of the woods just yet. But from where we stand, for the very first time, we are beginning to see glimmers of hope,” Obama said as he analyzed in detail what prompted the crisis and the steps he has taken to address it.

Mr. Obama during his speech also addressed his critics who say he is spending with “reckless abandon.”

“I know there is criticism out there that my administration has somehow been spending with reckless abandon, pushing a liberal social agenda while mortgaging our children’s future,” Obama said.

“History has shown repeatedly that when nations do not take early and aggressive action to get credit flowing again, they have crises that last years and years instead of months and months — years of low growth, years of low job creation, years of low investment, all of which cost these nations far more than a course of bold, upfront action,” he declared.

During his speech Pres. Obama also emphasized the fact that schools, local and state governments along with clean energy and construction companies were rehiring workers. He said credit markets are starting to thaw, and home-owners were refinancing at lower interest rates.

“This is all welcome and encouraging news,” Obama said. “It does not mean that hard times are over; 2009 will continue to be a difficult year for America’s economy.”

Obama’s latest remarks come as he nears the symbolic 100-day mark in office.

President Obama’s full remarks as prepared for delivery available here »

Separately: In a speech prepared for students and faculty at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said today that there are signs the “sharp decline” in the U.S. economy is slowing, citing recent data on home and auto sales, home building and consumer spending. Mr. Bernanke also said these improvements indicate a potential “first step” toward recovery.

The Fed Chair at the conclusion of his speech said he remains “fundamentally optimistic” about the outlook for the economy.

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