February 24th, 2009
01:40 PM ET
9 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. NY republican

    Did anybody think that calling this situation a "game" might be the wrong choice of words?

    February 24, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  2. Angus McDugan

    Football analogy: He has has the conuntry going long for the end-zone. He fades back and throws the ball. Now while it is still in the air ... he is comming up with a plan. Sounds like he doesn't really beliieve in the first paly which is his trillion dollar spending package.

    February 24, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  3. Southern Democrat

    Talk, talk, talk, talk.......we're tired of the talking all we want now is action.

    Stop talking about the problem......just fix it and stop playing the blame game.

    It doesn't matter anymore who created the problem. The only thing that matters is can you fix the problem!

    February 24, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  4. get it done

    I have little faith in the economists

    but I think you will figure it out

    what damage the Bush years have done to the U.S.

    February 24, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  5. Lexie

    We all agree that President Obama has a great "game plan". Just don't expect the republicans to play well with others.

    February 24, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  6. KJ in Dallas, TX

    I am really looking forward to hearing President Obama speak tonight. I don't expect a big change in the idiotic/easy-to-manipulate/volatile stock market tonight by making the speech, but I always feel better when I hear him. He's doing a fantastic job so far. Keep up the good work, Mr. President!

    February 24, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  7. Mike NY

    Why would someone in the Democrat party think the American people do not want to know "every move on the field," ? Do they really think we are that stupid? Never mind, I have seen their supporters' blogs, misspelling, bad grammar, wrong information, I think they have already answered my question.

    February 24, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  8. charlie in Maine

    He is doing exactly what I hired him for. This guy is on the job and things will turn around because of it.

    Hey Obamaphobes,

    I know you don't like him. I can relate. Felt the same way about W. But it could be much worse. Imagine how you would feel if McCain had won the election and the Supreme Court decided to give it to Obama. Yeah that would really be awful. Imagine how you would feel if instead of using 800 billion to get the economy going again he decided that we should spend 12 million an hour to invade and occupy a country that never attacked us. Yeah it could be worse.

    February 24, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  9. America does want to know!

    Why would someone want to call this situation a "game"? Is that all it is to them?

    February 24, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  10. Patriot Guy

    The federal government of the United States shall not budget expenditures to exceed federal tax revenue collected during the previous fiscal year. The only exceptions shall be expenditures pertaining to military conflict occuring on American soil or a national emergency, so defined by the President of the United States in conjunction with an eighty percent super-majority of both houses of Congress.

    (This is the first step in saving America from almost-certain economic ruin. Politicians will NEVER have the discipline to consistently balance the budget. The Conistitution must be changed to FORCE this discipline.)

    February 24, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  11. Jackie in Dallas

    I just hope to hear the truth, something we didn't hear much of from our previous President. That, and a word of hope, and a plan for government accountability.

    Oh, and someone please get Senator McCain down from the podium. He still thinks he won!

    February 24, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  12. Bea

    I am one 100% in favor what our president plans to do. One thing I would like to adress – please get all the money back from all the banking executives (Merrill Lynch etc.) who took the money from the 1st bail-out. Why should they be millionairs when kids are without food? This money could go to all the children – our Veterans and there would be money left over for the good of the country.

    February 24, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  13. Di

    The current salary (2009) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year. This is why Obama wants to raise tax on people whom make $250,000. We do not need PEP RALLY. We want the PORK to STOP!

    February 24, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  14. achap

    SMOKE AND MIRRORS!!!!!!! wake up people this country is in big trouble.

    February 24, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  15. M & M

    President Obama is a leader.
    Despite the lack of partisanship from our republicains partners, Mr obama continues to try to cross the hale. And this is what is expected from a great leader. The country's economy is at risk, we are deepining into a depresion. However, some people are still clinging to their old ideas instead of waking up. Let' s work together and Tackle the challenges ahead.

    February 24, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  16. NY republican

    @Patriot Guy – this was tried way back "in the day", they named a band after the reception it got (Led Zeppelin). It's still NOT a bad idea, though!!

    February 24, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  17. Betty

    Wrong. We do want to know the game plan and the plays being called. Why did he tell us in the election that he would tell us everything but now wants to give us generalities? He even said he would lay all the cards on the table with foreign enemies, so why not us?

    February 24, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  18. karen-Phoenix

    Thank you President Obama!!!! Hope over fear!!! You said it in your inaguration speech and you are saying it now!! Everyone needs to read "Audacity of Hope". WE, the American working class will be stronger than ever at the end of this!!! AND there is a LOT more of us than the 1% rich in the repubs party!!!

    February 24, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  19. Sam Sixpack

    Where do you think all this money is coming from?

    The real game plan: Learn to speak Chinese.

    February 24, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  20. NY republican

    Jackie in Dallas – Hope we will get, platitudes we will get, fluff we will get. A detailed plan, we have already been told we will not get one of those. Truth, I'm not any politician on either side of the aisle knows what that is.

    February 24, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  21. matt

    The Chosen One is going to deliver an hour-long sermon tonight because he likes the sound of his own voice. Prepare yourself for 60 minutes of hearing about how screwed we all are, how it will get worse before it gets better, about how there will be more foreclosures and job losses before there are less, and how there will come a need for more sacrifices and more spendulus bills.

    And on Wednesday, the stock market will fall 300 points.

    Mid-term elections can't come fast enough.

    February 24, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  22. ray ray

    CNN finds my message to be worthy of eternal moderation??

    What gives CNN??


    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 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  23. Farrell-Lee McMenimee

    Can't you see what is happening? Obama wants to ruin this country's economy so he can restore it the way he thinks it should be. He is simply a marxist and wants to control everything in this country. He and Pelosi believe the two of them together can rule the USA (or what used to be the USA). Please, folks, don't let this happen.

    February 24, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  24. Ohio for Obama- Suburbs

    The Republicans are afraid of being the minority until 2020.
    Blinded Americans is so afraid of Obama Success that the Republicans, and right wing media are promoting the theme “This President will fail”. Is it ironic how Republicans and The Rush Limbaugh’s have all the solution, when it was the Bush Administration, and the Republicans party who controlled the House for eight, and six years. It’s sad when Governors play politics with the stimulus money for political purpose. How about the Housing plan that many are trying to down play, not understanding that if the housing market fails, the country fail and the community. A distractive Republician party is a defeated party. Have you guys learned that in eight years?

    February 24, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  25. Kevin in Ohio

    Is part of Obama's game plan allowing unconstitutional addition of representatives, and potentiallly senators, from DC? Why is CNN not covering that story???????? Its being swept under the carpet by the liberal media.

    February 24, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
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