WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama on Tuesday described the nation's financial woes as a "reckoning" for poor decisions made by both government and individuals.
"A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future," Obama said in his first speech to a joint session of Congress. "Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market.
"People bought homes they knew they couldn't afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day."
He said his economic agenda - which includes money to jumpstart job-creation and invest in green energy, health care and education - is a first step to turn things around.
"Now is the time to act boldly and wisely - to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity," Obama said.