President Bush on Tuesday told a country engulfed by dire economic news that it should not expect a sudden recovery but rather a gradual rebound that will test people's patience.
Pounding home a sober tone, Bush said about a dozen times that the nation is enduring “tough times.”
“I know that the days are dim right now for a lot of folks,” Bush said, “but I firmly believe tomorrow is going to be brighter.”
Just not literally tomorrow.
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The government's unprecedented plan to buy up Wall Street's failed assets has not kept the stock market from plunging or the credit crisis from imperiling financial markets around the globe. That, in turn, has exacerbated the confusion of the public, which was told repeatedly that the government plan was a rescue.
So the White House, led by Bush, is sending this message: Hang in there, America. The massive federal intervention will just take time to work.
The aim is to temper any expectations that a quick fix is coming.
“I wish I could snap my fingers and make what happened stop,” the president said at an office supply plant in Chantilly, Va. “But that's not the way it works.”
Bush said about a half-dozen times, in one form or another, that “it's going to take a while” to get credit flowing again to businesses and consumers. He sought to explain in plainspoken and realistic terms that banks eventually will build up capital and gain the freedom to recharge the economy with credit.
The credit contagion has global implications, as European governments try to coordinate a response to their own reeling financial markets. To ensure U.S. engagement, Bush on Tuesday phoned British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the administration was focused on a meeting this week among finance ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations: the U.S., Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Japan. She also left the door open for Bush to attend an emergency leaders' meeting suggested by Sarkozy.
The president has refrained from pointing blame at the government for having a hand in the crisis, which began with questionable mortgages that helped sink the housing market. But Tuesday, he offered that the mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, were “basically unregulated to the point where they wrote a lot of product that was untrustworthy over time.”
Bush spoke in the warehouse level of Guernsey Office Products in Chantilly.
When the company owner asked him what advice he'd offer to the small-business community, the president summarized, “Have faith that this economy is going to recover over time.” When another local business owner described his own tough times, Bush said: “Thanks for hanging in there.”