(CNN) - President Obama has made his priorities very clear: health care, energy and education. The speech is more like a standard State of the Union address - with an added element of extreme urgency, given the fiscal crisis.
If it somehow seems that we have heard this before from Obama, it's because we have. Which raises the question: have we been seeing him too much?
My answer is no. We know where he stands and what he intends to do. Now voters can hold him to his promises.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama on Tuesday called for all Americans to commit to at least one year of higher education or career training.
"This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship," he said in his address to a joint session of Congress.
"But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma."
He touted the billions for education - from early childhood education expansion to college-loan programs - in his recently approved economic stimulus package and set a goal of having the highest college graduation rate in the world by 2020.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Saying the United States can no longer afford to put health-care reform on hold, President Barack Obama said his budget proposal will include a "historic commitment" to it.
"I suffer no illusions that this will be an easy process. It will be hard," Obama said in his first address to a joint session of Congress. "But I also know that nearly a century after Teddy Roosevelt first called for reform, the cost of our health care has weighed down our economy and the conscience of our nation long enough."
Obama said he will be assembling representatives of business, labor, doctors and healthcare providers next week to begin discussing the reforms.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Interesting line, sounds like major aid for the auto industry is on the way: “…I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The speech is clearly aimed well beyond the House chamber. He is going step by step through why the banks need to be bailed out, and how it will help middle class families. Seems to me some of this is pushback against Americans grown weary of bailing out “big banks” or “Wall Street.” Thus the tough talk - “those days are over,” a likely reference to excessive spending of companies taking federal help - and the reassurances of his mission: “It’s not about helping banks - it’s about helping people.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Making sure the nation's lending industry is strong is crucial to jumpstarting its economy, President Barack Obama said Tuesday, even as he acknowledged anger over the government banking bailout Congress approved last year.
"I know how unpopular it is to be seen as helping banks right now, especially when everyone is suffering in part from their bad decisions. I promise you - I get it," Obama said in his first address to a joint session of Congress. "But I also know that in a time of crisis, we cannot afford to govern out of anger, or yield to the politics of the moment.
He said he plans a new lending fund to provide college, auto and small-business loans and a housing plan that will help struggling families refinance and pay smaller mortgages. He said he wants to continue propping up the nation's largest banks when they're in danger, but will hold them accountable for how the money is spent.
"This time, CEOs won't be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks or buy fancy drapes or disappear on a private jet," Obama said.
"Those days are over."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama on Tuesday described the nation's financial woes as a "reckoning" for poor decisions made by both government and individuals.
"A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future," Obama said in his first speech to a joint session of Congress. "Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market.
"People bought homes they knew they couldn't afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day."
He said his economic agenda - which includes money to jumpstart job-creation and invest in green energy, health care and education - is a first step to turn things around.
"Now is the time to act boldly and wisely - to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity," Obama said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama apparently buys into that old slogan about never letting 'em see you sweat.
Despite the pressure of his first speech to a joint session of Congress at a time of national crisis, two senior aides tell me the President quietly had only one full dress rehearsal with a teleprompter at about 6pm ET in the White House's historic map room.
The significance is that predecessors like Bill Clinton and George W. Bush used to go through at least a few - maybe even several depending on the situation - dress rehearsals for a speech like this to get it just right. Just one session suggests a man feeling pretty confident despite the intensity of the crisis.
As one senior aide told me, "This moment in time needs clarity and a sense of purpose."
The White House has released the full text of President Obama's address to Congress this evening:
Madame Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, and the First Lady of the United States:
I’ve come here tonight not only to address the distinguished men and women in this great chamber, but to speak frankly and directly to the men and women who sent us here.
I know that for many Americans watching right now, the state of our economy is a concern that rises above all others. And rightly so. If you haven’t been personally affected by this recession, you probably know someone who has – a friend; a neighbor; a member of your family. You don’t need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis, because you live it every day. It’s the worry you wake up with and the source of sleepless nights. It’s the job you thought you’d retire from but now have lost; the business you built your dreams upon that’s now hanging by a thread; the college acceptance letter your child had to put back in the envelope. The impact of this recession is real, and it is everywhere.
The White House has released additional excerpts of President Obama's address to Congress this evening:
"We have lived through an era where too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity; where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election. A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.
"Well that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here.