With his administration about to reach the symbolic hundred day marker, the president went before the American people with an assessment of the economy.
He said the measures he has put in place in his first months in office are beginning to bear fruit. But he acknowledged 2009 will continue to be a difficult year.
"There is no doubt that times are still tough," said Mr. Obama. "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."
In a speech at Georgetown University, a short drive from the White House, President Obama mixed optimism with a dose of reality.
Sounding at times like a college professor, he spoke in great detail about action already taken to stimulate the economy, free up credit, and repair the damaged financial sector.
"All of these actions - the Recovery Act, the bank capitalization program, the housing plan, the strengthening of the non-bank credit market, the auto plan, and our work at the G20 - all have been necessary pieces of the recovery puzzle," he said.
But he said these efforts must be just the beginning of a sustained often difficult drive to put the economy on a sounder footing.
Using a Bible story to make his point, he said America can not rebuild its economic foundation on a pile of sand.
"We must build our house upon a rock," continued President Obama. "We must lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity - a foundation that will move us from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest; where we consume less at home and send more exports abroad."
President Obama said that stronger foundation will require new rules for Wall Street, and new investments in education, renewable energy and health care.
Critics charge he is advocating reckless government spending in tough economic times.
The president said that view is shortsighted. He said what is needed is the political will to make difficult decisions.
"We have been called to govern in extraordinary times. And that requires an extraordinary sense of responsibility - to ourselves, to the men and women who sent us here, and to the many generation whose lives will be affected for good or for ill because of what we do here," he said.
The head of the U.S. central bank echoed some of Mr. Obama's remarks in a speech of his own on Tuesday. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said there have been signs that the sharp decline in economic activity may be slowing. But he also made clear a sustainable recovery hinges on the ability to stabilize financial markets, and get credit flowing freely again.