Obama: Ending economic crisis won't be easy

President, in weekly radio address, says nation will emerge 'more prosperous' after his actions.

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By Paul Steinhauser, CNN

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Obama told Americans on Saturday that ending the economic crisis will not be "easy," but the nation will emerge "more prosperous" through swift and bold actions.

Speaking in his weekly radio and Internet address from the White House, Obama made the comments a day after the worst American unemployment figures were released in a quarter-century.

"I knew that solving this crisis would not be easy, nor would it happen overnight," Obama said.

"And we will continue to face difficult days in the months ahead. But I also believe that we will get through this -- that if we act swiftly and boldly and responsibly, the United States of America will emerge stronger and more prosperous than it was before."

In an interview published Saturday in The New York Times, Obama said that he can't assure that the economy will bounce back this year, but that he will "get all the pillars in place for recovery this year."

Obama made the pledge in a 35-minute interview -- largely focused on the economy and the war in Afghanistan -- with the Times aboard Air Force One on Friday.

"I don't think that people should be fearful about our future," he told the newspaper. "I don't think that people should suddenly mistrust all of our financial institutions."

Conservative opponents have criticized Obama's new administration, saying it has pushed the country toward socialism and that his $787 billion economic stimulus package will do little to revive the struggling economy.

However, during the interview, Obama "exhibited confidence," saying the nation should not fear the future, the Times reported.

On Friday, the government announced that the United States lost 651,000 jobs last month, bringing the total number of jobs lost since the start of the recession to 4.4 million. The Labor Department also reported that the nation's unemployment rate soared to 8.1% in February, the highest level in a quarter century.

The president emphasized what his administration is doing to help get the nation out of the recession.

"My administration is committed to doing all that's necessary to address this crisis and lead us to a better day," Obama said in his radio address.

"That's why we're moving forward with an economic agenda that will jump-start job creation, restart lending, relieve responsible homeowners, and address the long-term economic challenges of our time: the cost of health care, our dependence on oil, and the state of our schools."

Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, in the weekly Republican radio address, warned of too much government involvement in the healthcare system.

"Some people are spending a lot of time talking about how to spend more of your money on bigger government run programs," Blunt said. "I'm concerned that if the government steps in it will eventually push out the private health care plans millions of Americans enjoy today."

Obama's budget, released last month, includes a 10-year $634 billion reserve fund to help pay for his healthcare reforms.

Obama ended his weekly address with a message of hope.

"We've experienced great trials before. And with every test, each generation has found the capacity to not only endure, but to prosper -- to discover great opportunity in the midst of great crisis. That is what we can and must do today," said Obama.

"And I am absolutely confident that is what we will do. I'm confident that at this defining moment, we will prove ourselves worthy of the sacrifice of those who came before us, and the promise of those who will come after."

-- Reuters contributed to this report To top of page

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