February 24th, 2009
01:40 PM ET
5 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. Thomas

    NY republican February 24th, 2009 2:30 pm ET

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

    Uh no.

    it is a common phrase used in English.

    February 24, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  2. proudliberal-independent

    he seems to be the only person in DC that has a plan.

    February 24, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  3. Thomas

    Southern Democrat February 24th, 2009 2:33 pm ET

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

    And what, pray tell, would you expect the President to do when delivering a SPEECH?

    February 24, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  4. Alan in MD

    I would prefer he not say anything. The stock market is up nicely today, if we can limp through a few more weeks everything will be OK. Just try to keep the lip shut and stay out of the news.

    Out of sight, out of mind.

    February 24, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  5. TRUTH

    Liberals wake up every morning asking themselves what the government can do for them. They think the government is the answer to all of their problems. They are losers.

    February 24, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  6. this is an easy one

    "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."

    no you or any of the tax payers, this was my question too

    the middle class does not exist at all to this policy
    very unfair and I don't feel charitable either

    February 24, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  7. Deborah

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

    More to distroy us completely!

    Say NO to TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION!

    February 24, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  8. TRUTH

    indyred- Good teachers do not worry about testing because they know their students will do well. Only poor teachers feel truly threatened by the notion of testing students. As a teacher you should understand that these tests are not complicated. They test students on the bare minimum that they SHOULD know. Without this testing there is no accountability on the teachers' part.

    February 24, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  9. A Realistic Thinker!!!

    A report on the nations financial crisis???? Well, I guess Obama should know, he is the biggest financial problem our nation has EVER had! I noticed that his poll ratings have gone down today which is not at all surprising, in fact I predict that the polls will be very low, very soon. He is financially incapable, he is cocky and totally unprepared for this position.

    February 24, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  10. James A.

    I am an avid Obama supporter, but those yellow curtains behind him have to go! Who chose that color? They are the visual equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard.

    February 24, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  11. A Realistic Thinker!!!

    T.C.
    You are right......I didn't want him there! I am not at all ashamed of that fact. He scares me to death!

    February 24, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  12. carlo

    I'm glad that the President is keeping us in the loop. For 8 years, we had no clue what was going on the Washington before it was too late. Now, people are complaining that all he does is give speeches, but if he didn't do it, the same people would be shouting their mouths off about how he is being secretive. The 25-30% of people polled who never approve of anything the President is doing and thinks that the GOP is doing a good job is the Republican base. I hope that is sufficient for them, because their tactics won't recruit any new party members.

    February 24, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  13. Griff............... on The Truth...

    The Gambler! Don't count your money, while your still waiting for the Deal. You may just get a pair of two's

    February 24, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  14. still hoping

    I bet it will sound something like this,
    "We will fix our banks and make them stronger,
    we will create jobs
    we will solve the housing crisis,
    we will increase educational spending to make our schools better,
    we will decrease our dependency on foreigh oil,
    Thank you"

    And now all the dimocrats will rave about what a great plan and leader of intelligence we have, and what a great speech.

    And all those who actually have intelligence will say, "WHAT???!?!?, What plan???"

    February 24, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  15. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    OBAMA IS SPENDING TRILLIONS RIGHT HERE IN AMERICA WHILE GEORGE W. BUSH SPENT TRILLIONS OF OUR TAX DOLLARS IN IRAQ. AT ALL COST WE MUST TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN BEFORE WE TAKE CARE OF COUNTRIES THAT DON'T WANT US THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE BUT ACCEPT OUR TAX DOLLARS.

    February 24, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  16. MZ

    Since expectations are a little lower for him, compared to th Inaugural, maybe he'll just enter on a carpet of artificial palm leaves instead of the real thing.

    February 24, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  17. Baze

    Just use a whole lot of "we can do better", "there are no shortcuts", and "have faith in our union", and everything will be fine

    February 24, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    I'm sick and tired of hearing/reading "the first African American to do this, the first AA to to that!" Give us a break! Who gives a big R's A if its a first of anything – just fix the problem!

    February 24, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  19. RJ

    Hey Obama... shut up already.
    I don't need a press conference every two hours or some grand speech about what you would like to do.
    Just do the job we are PAYING you to do already and stop campaigning... we get it.. you won.
    Now stuff the cocky attitude and swagger, knock off the White House cocktail parties and get to work.

    February 24, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  20. femi

    "Liberals wake up every morning asking themselves what the government can do for them. They think the government is the answer to all of their problems. They are losers."

    And conservatives wake up wondering which country to invade next.

    priceless!

    February 24, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  21. cnnnewser

    I'm sure the republicans will be ready willing and able to knock everything he says.
    They have NO ideas of their own and refuse to help our president accomplish anything.
    They will be remembered next election.

    February 24, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  22. Billy J in Texas

    How can folks blame this on Obama? It is amazing how little stomach these haters have for looking in the mirror and seeing what their politics and warped view of life has wrought upon this great nation. It isn't the liberals volunteering at the food banks, soup kitchens, big brothers and big sisters etc.... that are waiting for a hand out, it is the conservative minded bank fat cats, and day traders that want to be bailed out after ripping us all off (including the haters here). It is the folks who blindly followed Cheney and Halliburton into war without once thinking we should pay for it now instead of later. And the funniest part is I bet the most conservative white states get more bang for their federal tax dollar than 'liberal' ones ... compare s. carolina, louisianna, missisipi to california, vermont, oregon... I bet Cali pays a dollar and gets 50 cents back while carolina pays a dollar and gets a dollar 50...... I don't hate the haters, but... they sure do make it hard to give them the brotherly love we should all be sharing.....

    February 24, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  23. Oregon

    Hey Truth – guess you got your head in the sand.

    Democrats, Liberals, Progressive, Obama koolaid drinkers, whatever you want to call us well WE WON.

    Republicans, KKK, racists, conservatives, good ole' boy. well YOU LOST.

    Now you know the Truth. LOL!!! ROFLMAO!! You conversavtives are better than a comedy act!

    It's not White America anymore people – get used to it! and I'm white.

    February 24, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  24. cnnnewser

    So, what ideas do the naysayers have to help the economic mess we're in – NONE!!!
    The republicans created this mess and have no idea how to end it – so, they attack our President at every turn.
    And their followers do nothing but spew negative nonsense and are not willing to give him a chance or listen to what he has to say.
    What has happened to Americans? Why is everyone so against President Obama?
    I hope each and every negative person loses their homes and jobs – then they'll have something to cry about.
    This mess is a republican created mess...period!!!

    February 24, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  25. Debi

    To all the nay sayers: If previous presidents (not just Bush Jr.) had not allowed for deregulation and creative accounting (ie. not counting the Iraq War in the budget) Obama would not have to have a "game plan" to clean up this mess.

    Free market is the equivolent of allowing your teenager have a party in a house with a full liquor cabinet with no adult supervision.
    When no one is watching the children get drunk.

    So let's give him more than 30 days to clean up a mess that has taken more than 20 years to create.

    February 24, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
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