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. Maggie from Virginia

    I have total confidence in President Obama.

    February 24, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  2. Kevin in Ohio

    Charlie in maine you are so full of crap. The 200 election was almost stolen from Bush by AlGore who wanted to count votes only in 3 heavily democrat counties in Florida. And the US is not in any conceivable way "occupying" Iraq. If you want to know what true "occupation" is, look back to Nazi germany or Saddam in Kuwaut. Moron!

    February 24, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  3. Beverly from NC

    President Obama is doing a terrific job trying to restore our nation and to help Americans who have lost their jobs and feel so desperate.

    President Obama continues to reach out to the People and show his true concern for their situation – all despite the constant hatefest from the Republicans who want America to fail to meet their political agenda.

    It's time for us to take back America from these do-nothing Republicans. We have the power to take back America and make it great and prosperous again – and to rid ourselves of Republicans who are doing everything they can to make sure we fail. Republicans still don't get it. In 2010, in NC we wil be getting rid of Sen Richard Burr who betrayed us.

    Did you see McCain criticize Obama to his face on helicopter costs that MCCAIN chaired the committee for under Bush who ordered the helicopters in the first place??? Senile, bitter, and still trying to blame everything he can think up on Obama. Sorry McCain – we know your game and that you cannot be trusted and have no honor.

    Why isn't McCain worried about Arizona where the foreclosure rate is the 2nd highest in the nation? He has 7 houses and a trophy wife who pays all his bills – so let them eat cake – he could care less. So typical – he is one who is up for reelection in 2010. He should retire but if not Arizona can vote him out for good.

    Why aren't all Reublicans – Senators and Governors- worried about the people who elected them?? Gov Sanford of SC is not going to take any stimulus money because he believes "we should let all businesses and people fail and then start over from there". When SC residents called in to the radio show where he made his ignorant comments – he told them "too bad -but he would be "praying for them"!!!!!!

    Obama was so right that criticism and opposition to America's recovery plans only appear when the TV camera is on – Republicans are SO STUPID – they think we will support them when they have betrayed us in this serious economic crisis??? Still clueless and NOT Country First.

    Go Obama – we support you and believe in your leadership and true faith efforts to fix this awful mess the Republicans dumped in your lap. You are are doing everything you can and we appreciate it!

    February 24, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    @ Southern Democrat (and others)

    What is wrong with you? Were you dropped as children or lost in the K-Mart? Seriously. This is something every single president does after being elected. It is expected. It is mandatory. It's not about the blame game or anything like that. It is about explaining to the congress and the american public where we're at, where he wants us to go and how he plans to achieve it. What's more, for you to accuse him of doing nothing only reveals that you've been living in your panic room since you heard that a black dude had been elected. Grow up.

    February 24, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  5. Terry in NY

    It just irks me that peopekl forget this fact. We need to remember he's the first part African President. As much white as he is black. Savve the celebration for the first real Black president. Time to get it right Obama, even the best economist now believe your action toward stimulus will take years if ever to work. Give the a couple hundred billion to the people direct in form of a gift card to use or loose and watch how quickly things turn around.

    February 24, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  6. Yip

    Obama has extended this mess with teririble plans and approaches. Millions of job losses and stock market declines are due to a deer in the headlights presidency.

    February 24, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  7. AndyL

    First of all,if he think this is a "game" we are all in trouble. As far as the "game" plan is concerned, let's see, spend spend spend, speech, spend spend spend, speech followed by spend spend spend and more useless speeches.

    February 24, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  8. NY republican

    Lexie – We do not "all agree" that he has any "game plan" much less a good one. If it's all so special why does Congress not get the time to read the bills? Why do statements come out of the White House saying Americans don't want to hear the details? A "plan" is all about details, a political speech is all we are getting.
    I am reading a lot of Democrats blogging that what they got is not what they "bought". It's not just us "obstructionist" republicans, but no one hears about the Democrats that voted no, the democrats that passed "Bush's bailout" or anything like that.

    February 24, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  9. John McCain

    Hey, don't blame me. I voted for the other guy.

    February 24, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  10. Eric

    I voted for Obama and I know I made the right decision. However, I think he should have chosen Paul Krugman to Be his economist-we need somebody like him right now.

    February 24, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  11. Sammy

    Tell me who gets the profits from the reworked mortgages? If my neighbor gets his loan reduced $50,000 because the worth has dropped, what happens when the market recovers and he sells at a big profit. I'm out the $50,000 because I paid my original loan and he gets a huge profit at the taxpayers' expense. Sorry, but I'm not feeling that charitable.

    February 24, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  12. AndyL


    10 buck I'll fall asleep listining to more of his useless rhetoric.

    February 24, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  13. Ric in NY

    ya another campaign speech from Obama..


    But the koolaid drinkers will be goo goo eyed as always...

    February 24, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  14. IndyVoter

    Uh, excuse me "No Corporate Politics" – President Obama NEVER said that any of the change we voted for would be easy or quick. As a matter of fact he said the opposite that it would be an uphill climb and it would not happen overnight...So don't even try it! I guess you were too busy eating up Palin/McCain's crumbs to hear what President Obama really said.

    And by the way "SN" we were "screwed" before Obama got anywhere near the White House thanks to Bush & his Republican buddies. Its amazing how Republicans are now trying to blame all this on Obama. Wow!

    February 24, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  15. indyred

    Time to bash public education again. As a veteran teacher of 35 years, all the bashing of public educaton makes my heart break. I am a product of public education. I chose to teach. I am a summa cum laude graduate of school. Public education worked well when students and parents were held accountable for their work–NOT the teachers. I cannot make children learn. I can only give them opportunitites to do so. Testing is a big problem–it doen't teach anything.

    February 24, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  16. Lynn

    And then Jundal will respond with the usual Republicaban call for tax cuts and the usual partisan bs and CNN will hail him as the future of the Republicans never mentioning that he is turning down 100 million dollars and accepting 3 billion 900 million.

    Then Larry King live will interview John McCain who LOST the election who will talk about helicopters that Bush ordered and tax cuts...and the so called pundits will go on and on knowing that they will never be called to task to actually inact or verify their nonsense and "cable chatter". What a joke American media has become!

    February 24, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  17. lived9lives Southern Oregon

    Does this speech really matter? According to your CNN poll only a little over one third of Americans are even going to listen to it. Another approx one third would rather hear his words interpretted by the media, friends, etc. and less than one third won't even listen. So, just about two thirds of Americans who claim they want our problems solved won't even directly inform themselves. Kind of like the Republicans who didn't have time to read the stimulus package.
    Keep whining America. If you personally don't listen then you have NO credibility at all! Learn to think for yourselves.

    February 24, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  18. T.C.

    As I read some of these posts, the bitterness of Republicans knows know end. Nothing Pres. Obama does will ever make you happy because you didn't want him there in the first place and you don't like him. Well, all I have to say is welcome to how I've felt for the last 8 years.

    February 24, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  19. REG in AZ

    You simply have to give Obama credit. As hard as the Republicans try to fault, block and sabotage whatever he offers he keeps handling their irresponsible obstructionist efforts and, while admitting fine tuning could likely still be needed, keeps addressing the issues, which the Republicans seem to think is unnecessary, and keeps trying to solve the problems he inherited. The Republicans, current example McCain with the helicopters, seem to think they can arrogantly and stupidly say anything and their influential supporters will just massage it to manipulate public opinion. It sure would be nice to have a Republican Party that responsibly and honestly competed in the best interests of the people instead of just being obnoxiously totally focused on playing the political games.

    February 24, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    Obama should know all about financial crisis,.....he IS the biggest financial crisis this nation has ever known!

    February 24, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  21. Andy

    Sure. A tax and spend liberal message. Sit back, let the govt do everything for you. We will let the taxpayer foot the bill.

    February 24, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  22. Bowser

    Now that we know how this problem came to be and what policies not to adopt we can move ahead.

    February 24, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  23. proudliberal-independent

    just having Barack Obama as President gives me optimism. we definitely picked the right person for the job.

    February 24, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  24. Ricky

    Hey Charlie in Maine –

    Go drink some more Obama flavored KoolAid. You Obama-bots are the most weak minded individuals the world has ever seen. You are so in love with Obama you believe anything this crook says. Its scary..

    February 24, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  25. rena


    Thomas please do not compare this President with Bush. Bush had no intentions of rebuilding New Orleans. He only had intentions to keeping spending billions rebuilding Iraq and putting money into his pocket and Cheney. Lastly, Bush knows nothing about helping, assisting, rebuilding, or looking out for others. He is only aware of two things and that would be destroy and take for his own self interest.

    February 24, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
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