Glimmers of Caution

Obama remains coy about recent signs of economic recovery and sends Detroit a major order for more government vehicles.

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The economy continues to show a little pep, but a probably still-jet-lagged President Obama isn’t about to get comfortable. A little good news and the right reaction from Obama, plus a small dose of health care reform, is good for 30 points on the Change-o-Meter.

Only two days back from his first European trip, Obama isn’t allowing himself to get too happy over signs of a stabilizing economy. A roundup of his top economic advisers sought to address the still rising unemployment rate, mortgage refinancing, and bank stability. As much as confidence is good for the economy, the ‘Meter figures Obama is right not to capitalize on gains that could evaporate overnight. The ‘Meter awards 15 for the right cocktail of hope and caution.

Obama also amped up efforts to revitalize the auto industry this week, announcing a plan Thursday to use $285 million in stimulus funds to buy 17,600 fuel-efficient cars from the Big 3 U.S. automakers. These government purchases will not save the industry, but the symbolic signal of commitment is good for five points. Given that Obama talked of a battery-powered fleet conversion during his campaign, the ‘Meter awards an additional five for follow-through.

Obama also announced plans Thursday to computerize veterans’ medical records. Obama’s new electronic data setup clears the hurdles for medical information to flow directly into the veterans’ health care system and may alleviate backlogs and delays for patients. Obama says the move is only part of his overall plan to step up veteran services (his 2010 budget includes additional funding and services), but it’s a good indication that amid the ills of the economy, health care reform is still front and center. The ‘Meter awards five for the reassuring nod.

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