Obama Still Seeing Economic "Glimmers of Hope"

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
In what the White House billed as a "major" speech on the economy, President Obama tried to reassure beleaguered Americans that the administration's actions were starting to ease the recession.

"From where I stand, for the very first time, we're beginning to see glimmers of hope," he said to a supportive audience at Georgetown University.

If that "glimmers of hope" sound familiar, it's because we've heard about them before. In fact, today was the fourth time in three weeks that Mr. Obama has spoken of those elusive "glimmers."

They first surfaced in remarks he made after his daily economic briefing on March 23rd.

"Because of the work that's already been done, you are starting to see glimmers of hope in the housing market that stabilization may be taking place," he said.

Two days later, more "glimmers" showed up in a speech to a $3.5-million fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee.

"We're already starting to see, because of an $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers, that now we're seeing glimmers of hope, and home prices are starting to stabilize in parts of the country," said Mr. Obama.

And then last Friday, in comments he made after a meeting with top economic officials (including Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke), the "glimmers" were back and, he suggested, much more broadly evident.

"What you're starting to see is glimmers of hope across the economy," said the president.

Again today, however, Mr. Obama was cautious not to be seen as overconfident in his efforts to turn the recession into recovery.

He says there's welcome and encouraging news, but "it does not mean that hard times are over."

"2009 will continue to be a difficult year for America's economy and obviously most difficult for those who've lost their jobs," he said.

The president asserted that "the severity of this recession will cause more job loss, more foreclosures, and more pain before it ends."

But he insists that his approach to the economic crisis is on target, though he said he understands the criticism of those who say he's spending too much and should let capitalism weed out troubled banks and companies by letting them fail.

More Coverage Of Obama's Speech:

Obama: U.S. Not "Out Of The Woods"

Daniel Farber: Obama's Sermon At Georgetown

Text Of Obama's prepared remarks

Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here.
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    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.