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."
Hey you know what? It's about time the Government did something for it's people, instead of it's people always doing something for the Government.
I'm quite happy with Obama in the last 30 days. He's quick too, always two or three steps ahead of the opposition. I love it!!
(see, the republicans are secretly jealous none of their president ever did so much for it's people. Reagen started Trickle Down and Bush/Bush lied to us and started immoral and illegal wars
@TCM... Racism and Jealousy sure do make for an ugly couple.
If we had just paid as much attention or even half as much attention to Bush from the get go, we would be having a very different conversation on these blogs now. He and his WH were not held accountable by either the mass media or bloggers on either side of the aisle. Repubs spent us out of our minds over the war in Iraq (talk about generational theft), the pitfalls of deregulation were ignored, the Constitution was stepped on, too many executive orders went out unchecked, and, generally speaking, it was boys gone wild. Let's at least give the new prez more than a month in office before we start trashing him and his efforts and ideas. There will not be great detail and I'm sure he will be faulted for that, but he is putting a great many plans and people in place to deal with the multi-faceted problems we are all facing, so, people, chill out for a while.
This is going to be the greatest speach ever! I hope he tells the American public that Presidents can serve as many terms as they would like, and he stays in the White House forever!
President Bush put us in a hole with 5 Trillion in National Debt in 8 years.
Barack is adding 2 Trillion in year 1 according to the numbers on MSNBC.
Barack is adding 1.6 Trillion in 2010, 1.3 Trillion in 2011, and 500 Billion in 2012. IS HE KIDDING. 5.4 TRILLION in 4 years.
We cant do this anymore. President Bush was wrong. Barack is wrong. STOP SPENDING MONEY. CUT THE BUDGET.
We don't need to nationalize banks only the rules they operate under as a means of regulating. Our entire financial system needs a rules revamp from banks, credit reporting, bancruptcy, payday loans, retirement funds, investments, etc... the playing fields must be level and free of traps.
@TRUTH February 24th, 2009 3:28 pm ET:
You get up every morning and eat a breakfast that is safe because our government implemented guidelines for food manufacturers.
You get up every morning and drive a car that is safe because our government has implemented standards for the car manufacturing companies.
You get up every morning and walk outside without being killed or kidnapped because our government has created laws to help protect us.
If you do not like government oversight, please go somewhere that government oversight does not exist.
Hey Obama bashers... It's not too late to exit the country. Better yet, go to sleep and don't wake up.
Jackie in Dallas,
If you think think that Obama is a truth teller..... I have a bridge I want to sell you!!! ha ha I think it is funny that you trust him!!! I mean, he never did produce a real birth certificate! And he "claims" he didn't know that Reverend Wright was anti-American! Seriously,...do you believe that??? Really??? And the list goes on.....just look at all the people he has wanted in his administration that have been involved in dishonest acts. I am no longer in love with either party, they both have their problems......but anyone who is willing to be honest with themselves knows that Obama is NOT a truth teller! He said many things just to get elected!
All these comments about "action instead of words" make no sense. Obama takes action- the stimulus bill- and the Republicans throw dynamite and set up road blocks. So the President goes out and talks to the people who are affected by this crisis. He hopes public pressure will get these toads to think about the pain people are suffering
So he is standing up to them and letting the American people know. That is what a president is supposed to do. He is speaking for us. Lord, why are there so many nitwits around?
Deborah – you voted, you lost. Shut up.
When teachers have to divert from curriculum to teach students how to pass a standardized test then it gets in the way of actual learning. The real world doesn't come with a standardized test, but requires critical thinking.
You should know this because you are a leading expert in the education system in this country, at least I can only assume by the shear arrogance you display in your posts on the subject.
Yeah – us American's don't care about details. We don't care if you double the national debt, nationalize the banks, pork us while you send pork to your buddies....
We don't care about "the moves" of the game.... just that you tell us everything will be ok and pat us on the head.
(Wow – what a patronizing message from Obama's people!!!)
Good bye Democracy......Hello Socialism!!!
I have no reason to doubt that President Obama's plan is going to work. He understands the Laws of Attraction(Ask, Believe, Receive) and history shows that after every bad president(yes, GOP, he was a bad president) we have a good president. Politically, there's not a single person in this country whom is more intelligent than President Obama, he will fix this mess and millions believe he will, much can be accomplished with the right attitude.
Nearly every time a teacher comments on the ticker, it's full of spelling and grammar errors (see indyreds comment for latest proof). Maybe that is part of the real problem with education.
When ever I start really feeling good about my fellow man, I know I can always come to the Political Ticker, read something written by a Republican, and it never fails to snap me back into my usual cynicism.
Not bothering to read the comments, since the comments of the far-right are always the same: hate, lies, criticism, ignorance.... all that vile. And from people who claim to be Christian! Shame on you!
Considering the disaster that Obama inherited from Bush, ANYTHING Obama does will be amazing!
The Obstructionist-GOPers, will continue their vile politics. I will be thrilled when the RECOVERY begins, and we, the 67% of Americans who support Obama........ can laugh as we watch the GOPers try and spin their lies about how it was "them who helped" us recover!
What a JOKE that will be!!
Sorry Obama – I'm not drinking the kool-aid. $65 extra dollars a month is your BIG IDEA???????? PLEASE go back to Illinois and let the real men run the country.
It won't be long before we hear how Republicans have padded their own pockets from the Stimuus Package. It's a given!
Good bye Democracy......Hello Socialism!!! That is where he is taking us!
ease off on the drugs
too much freebase is frying your brain
before you type anymore, stop and think, is what I am sending a complete thought?
the former president, who I call the nightmare, was a train wreck
Obama is sunlight compared to that disgrace
The stock market rebounded nicely today but that doesn't make the news. It only makes news when it tanks. There have been some good news stories today if you look hard for them. Why does the media play into the doom and gloom scenario all the time?
there is so much to fix from the Cheney and puppet Bush
they have done so much damage to this country
Obama has begun to fix all the damage but it will take a long time to heal
what a disaster the last 8 years have been