February 24th, 2009
01:40 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama to unveil 'game plan' to beat financial crisis

In his first speech to a joint session of Congress, President Obama is planning to strike a more optimistic tone than he has in recent days, according to a senior White House official.
In his first speech to a joint session of Congress, President Obama is planning to strike a more optimistic tone than he has in recent days, according to a senior White House official.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – In his first speech to a joint session of Congress, President Obama is planning to strike a more optimistic tone than he has in recent days by laying out a "game plan" to beat the financial crisis, according to a senior White House official.

The senior official said there will only be a light touch on foreign policy, with mentions of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as other threats around the world. Instead, the speech will be dominated by four big issues that all relate to the president's broader economic message: financial stability and responsibility, education, energy independence and health care reform

The senior official said that unlike the more formal State of the Union speeches usually delivered later in a presidency, Obama will not get into great detail on questions like whether large banks such as Citigroup will be nationalized.

"The American people want to know there's a game plan, not every move on the field," said the senior official. "We have a plan for winning."

The senior official argued that Obama has already been mixing some of his sober talk about the crisis with optimism about the future. Nevertheless, the official acknowledged the White House has heard the criticism from former President Bill Clinton and others about not being too sour and will make a point of being hopeful about the future.

"He clearly says, 'We will get through this, and here are the policies to get through this,'" the senior official said of the speech.

The official added the president will make clear that "at every point in history, America has come out stronger" after a crisis by relying on certain values like responsibility. Obama will also continue to say that he wants to work with Republicans to tackle these problems, according to the official.

While aides say Obama himself puts a heavy imprint on his own speeches, the address is being put together by Jon Favreau, the young chief White House speechwriter who was in charge of the inaugural address. Senior officials say recent drafts of the speech have been timed at between 50 minutes and one hour, depending on how many interruptions there are for applause.

Obama is also planning to build on Monday's fiscal responsibility summit to make the case that now is the time to try and tackle a series of big challenges at once, from financial regulatory reform to reshaping Social Security and the health care system. In the words of the senior official, "you never let a serious crisis go to waste" because it affords an opportunity to try and accomplish big things.

"It's time to own up rather than kick the can," said the senior official. "The way to deal with these short-term problems is to jump in to the long-term" problems.

Despite all of the challenges ahead, the senior official said top aides at the White House believe Obama is delivering this speech in a stronger position than any of his recent predecessors because he has a "different set of wins under his belt" this early in his presidency.

The official noted that when then-President Bill Clinton delivered his first speech to a joint session of Congress, he had only passed the Family and Medical Leave Act and was struggling politically because of the flap over the issue of gays in the military. Then-President Ronald Reagan, the official recalled, did not get his economic agenda passed until the summer of 1981.

By contrast, Obama has already signed into law the sweeping economic plan, an expansion of childrens' health insurance coverage and pay equity legislation.

The senior official boasted that Obama has "gotten more done in 30 days ... than any modern president."


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (126 Responses)
  1. Dave

    This is all engineered and he cannot stop it. When will we figure this all out????

    February 24, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  2. J.P.

    His game plan is to legally stick-up responsible Americans at gunpoint to pay for those who were irresonsible.

    Also known as "rewarding failure."

    Had enough change?
    Ready for the New American Tea Party now???

    February 24, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  3. Maggie

    The market will stablize when we believe our Media. Pure and simple.... so much BS on the media!

    February 24, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  4. ray ray

    Obama's spokesperson says,

    "The American people want to know there's a game plan, not every move on the field," said the senior official. "We have a plan for winning."

    NO – actually want to know THE MOVES, Mr Obama. Nationalizing the banks, wealth redistribution, tax hikes, bail-out for dead-beats, Pork for ACORN.... it matters!

    HOPE doesn't pay the bills ... and TRUST ME isn't an acceptable answer!

    February 24, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  5. Ohio for Obama- Suburbs

    Your the man President Obama. How many Repubs would want to see this quote by Bernanke.

    "In his semiannual report to the Senate Banking Committee, Bernanke predicted the economy is likely to keep contracting in the first six months of 2009. But he also said "there is a reasonable prospect" the recession will end this year. He warns that a recovery will require getting credit and financial markets to operate normally."

    This explains why Rush and company wanted to see Obama fail because this would disrupt their chances of getting back into the White House in the 2016.

    February 24, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  6. no corporate politics

    I got a preview of the speech:

    "Hi. Remember how I let my followers believe in immediate peace, prosperity, totally new government, hearts and flowers everywhere?

    Um, nevermind. Thank you."

    February 24, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  7. alvino

    The republicans will continue to amuse us with their obstructionist 'chinese fire drill.'

    February 24, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  8. Big George

    Who's idea was it to hang those horribly colored draperies? Nobama looks yellow himself standing in front of them. I can't believe decorators haven't fallen all over this horrendous mistake.

    February 24, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  9. Listening and Watching

    We have all been swept away by the eloquent words that President Obama used on the campaing trail, and since he has taken the oath of office he has continued to do what he loves. Speeches and traveling to give speeches. While I do believe words are powerful, the old cliche is true. Actions do speak louder. So far he has not delivered on the "transparent" government promised. His promise to "change washington" was followed by appointments of corrupt government officials who were robbing the people blind and not paying their own taxes (I don't buy the "oops I forgot" theories, they make enough money to have someone do their taxes professionally if they were really concerned about paying them correctly) and the economic "plans" that have been rolled out have caused greater confusion and panic because of a lack of details and an inability to come up with a solid answer. Let's not even talk about the rushed executive order to close Gitmo without procedures in place. I'm sure this will be a great speech, too bad he might not be the great president we all hoped for…

    February 24, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  10. Judy from PA

    Please be optimistic! We need some positive vibes in this country. Don't use the word 'catastrophic' any more. I saw Bill Clinton this morning and I forgot how great he was at making the country feel good about itself. We need more of that right now.

    February 24, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  11. thomas

    Remember when Bush said we are going to rebuild New Orleans better than ever? It still might be a little too soon to be painting roses on the economy's mailbox. The loss has been great and far-reaching, and President Obama has developed a masterful plan to address the multi-headed beast he battles. He will be victorious but not without many more casualities. What has been lost is lost and now is the time to rebuild.

    February 24, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  12. Shutout

    I'd like to know what inning we're in.

    February 24, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  13. Bob in Pa

    Oh I hope it will complete with X's and O's

    February 24, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    $10 says McCain falls asleep and Boehner looks like he swallowed a blowfish during the whole speach.

    February 24, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  15. Good!

    Glad President Obama is going to do this – I've gathered information about the different parts but it would be good to have him lay out the strategy all at once. Maybe we won't be so nervous if we know the direction we're heading.

    Bad as things are, at least we've got a leader who looks at the facts in charge – thank God the idiot who created the mess, GWB, is gone, and that there are so many fewer suck-up mindless-doctrine-spouting GOPs in Congress.

    Good job Pres. Obama & Democratic Congress! Keep going!

    February 24, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  16. CONCERN

    Rupert Murdoch apologizes for controversial NY Post cartoon

    February 24, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  17. Concerned in MA

    Get your checkbooks ready.

    February 24, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  18. Ian

    Why are we spending over $1 trillion every year on an overseas empire?

    Why are we still giving away hundreds of billions in aid to foreign countries?

    February 24, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  19. SN

    Deer in the headlights. We're screwed.

    February 24, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  20. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This president has more to fix and do than most presidents in the past 50 years. If George W. Bush hadn't started the ill-fated conflict in Iraq, then there would be one less problem for Obama to clean up.

    February 24, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  21. Hammer

    If you are not happy with the things happening in Washington join the New American Tea Party and have your voice heard. NewAmericanTeaParty.Com

    February 24, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  22. cheryl brooks from cali

    That's all fine and good however, I'd like to know where is the THIRTY TRILLION THAT'S MISSING FROM OUR ECONOMY!!!!! wHO STOLE ALL THE MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHER IS IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 24, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  23. Mike NY

    If that "White House Official" quoted in the article as saying "The American people want to know there's a game plan, not every move on the field," really beleives that he needs to "wake up and smell the coffee". Or at least read a newspaper. It's only the congressional Democrats that don't think they "need to know every move on the field".

    February 24, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  24. Karen- PROUD OF MY PRESIDENT

    President Obama is on a mission. I concur with him on everything he's doing thus far.,Our President is kicking butt and taking names and it's not taking him 8 years of fooliness to get it done. I mean it's like he's saying to everybody GET YOUR REAR ENDS IN GEAR TO TURN THIS COUNTRY AROUND OR BE LEFT BEHIND. The Republicans need to fall into place and realze there's a new sheriff in town. hahaha I LOVE IT! GO PRESIDENT OBAMA!

    Finally a man is office who has some intelligence, who is putting this country first and NOT concern with greasing his own pockets. YES!

    February 24, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  25. SN

    Yeah, we've come out all right in the past, but this country isn't made up of the same caliber of people any more.

    February 24, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
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