President Obama took credit Saturday for new signs the recession could be winding down and said the country's future economic prosperity depends on recapturing the "spirit of innovation."
"Innovation has been essential to our prosperity in the past, and it will be essential to our prosperity in the future," Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address, which mostly steered clear of health care -- the issue he'd pushed hard for the last two weeks.
The president cited Friday's Commerce Department report showing that in the last few months the economy overall has done "measurably better than expected." He credited his $787 billion economic stimulus program for much of that progress.
"This and the other difficult but important steps that we have taken over the last six months have helped put the brakes on this recession," Obama said.
He mentioned his administration's efforts to limit home foreclosures and unlock frozen credit markets to encourage lending to people and businesses, along with the mixture of tax cuts and spending included in the stimulus program.
Obama reminded the nation that full recovery will not happen overnight, but rather will take many more months.
"Even as we rescue this economy, we must work to rebuild it stronger than before," he said. "We've got to build a new foundation strong enough to withstand future economic storms and support lasting prosperity."
That means having the best-educated, highest-skilled workers in the world, a health care system that fosters innovation by holding the line on costs, building a clean energy economy and investing in research and development, Obama said.
"It is only by building a new foundation that we will once again harness that incredible generative capacity of the American people," the president said. "All it takes are the policies to tap that potential — to ignite that spark of creativity and ingenuity — which has always been at the heart of who we are and how we succeed."
Obama said he will discuss the foundation he wants when he makes a second visit to Elkhart, Ind., on Wednesday. Layoffs in the recreational vehicle industry account for much of the job loss in northern Indiana, which is struggling with an unemployment rate near 17 percent.
"For communities like Elkhart to thrive, we need to recapture that spirit of innovation that has always moved America forward," he said.
Senior administration officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, are likely to discuss those issues during meetings Saturday to assess administration progress at the six-month mark and plot a course ahead.
Obama was headed to Camp David for the weekend, and was not expected to participate in the sessions.