February 24th, 2009
06:17 PM ET

Pres. Obama to unveil "game plan" to beat financial crisis

Ed Henry
Senior White House Correspondent

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 out 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 whole 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 political because of the gays in the military flap. Then-President Ronald Reagan, the official recalled, did not get his economic agenda passed until the summer of 1981.

In 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: Ed Henry • President Barack Obama • Raw Politics
soundoff (33 Responses)


    February 25, 2009 at 8:59 am |


    February 25, 2009 at 8:57 am |
  3. Adriane Carr

    Mr. President, "Less talk..... make it happen!"

    February 25, 2009 at 7:56 am |
  4. James Maroon

    We need to stop subprime lending ,that is what got us into this banking crisis in the first place. Banks need to come up with a plan of there own in order to help the people of this country. Instead of the US gov bailing them out. I was in the mortgage buisness.

    February 25, 2009 at 4:18 am |
  5. amadou

    president obama, keep the good faith, when the going get tough is only the tough that keep going. the prove of the cooking is in the eating.we hope you food will be cook well.let them say !!!!!!!

    February 25, 2009 at 2:52 am |
  6. rich nice

    You are the best Rock On Boy.
    The Rupublicans will see in a few that what they say don't hurt.
    We the people believe in you from the start.And we still do.

    February 25, 2009 at 1:03 am |
  7. kenneth

    i fail to see how this will keep our children out of debt.we as americans are on a gleefull path to socialism!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 25, 2009 at 12:04 am |
  8. Ruth (AR)

    My God, give the man a chance, he been in office only a littler over a month. I believe he will do everything he say. Some people act like he been in office over 3 years. He has taken on a great load. He will make it happen because he as Jesus in his heart to guide him along the way, is their anyone better to guide him? I don't think so. So he will success.

    February 24, 2009 at 11:46 pm |
  9. Olivia

    I would like to know if the average American is not spending money. How does the economy grow? How are businesses operating at a profit level if the average American is unwilling to spend their money with them. If companies are going bankrupt due to lack of spending is it not apparent that something needs to be done to stimulate spending. We are all connected in some way. We need a common sense unified approach to aid all Americans to prosper not merely allowing the rich to get richer and on the backs of those less fortunate than them. According to our constitution everyone has the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness. It's the American Dream.

    February 24, 2009 at 11:27 pm |
  10. Rickey Nottingham

    We feel very upbeat about President Obama's speech. Boo to Bobby Jingel he should have checked facts on Katina

    February 24, 2009 at 11:23 pm |
  11. Roger M.

    I thought that the President's speech was great because unlike any other recent Presidents he has continually reached out to the the Republican Party and he keeps coming back to us-the american people to explain what his plan is, how it will help the economy, how it will help my family and restore our country. I am confused about what Jindal's speech was supposed to accomplish.

    February 24, 2009 at 11:17 pm |
  12. Elaine Butler

    On behalf of the President's speech I think he touched on areas where needed. He is doing a Great job based upon the circumstances. He has only been in office 30 plus days and has endured more attacks from the right that Bush did in 8 years. The President is taking care of the business at hand not trying to build a party up to try and run in 2012 by over looking the real matters. That is what the right wing in focus on not the economy but the year 2012.

    February 24, 2009 at 11:04 pm |
  13. Annie

    The President hasn't said that much new stuff from what he has been sayng. Was anyting said about Iraq? I guess I feel what he said about education was good and is important. Seeing the people lining up for jobs the other days in NewYok was a wake up call to me. I am a grad student hoping to find work in the late Spring.

    Also, I am kind of sick of Republicans. They need to get on board instead of worrying about being represented all the time.

    February 24, 2009 at 11:03 pm |
  14. George Christy

    “Sacrifices; middle class; US will rise again and face the challenges; time of change”; ....
    If this is true . Why, tell me why, the President would ever consider signing a recovery bill/budget that would STILL allow "pork", even if in some SMALL way, would (pork) impact jobs” Clearly anyone with ANY employment earning a staff level inadequate hourly wage, engaged in "real life" bedside health care, the pork" would better "serve the masses depending on health care recover> As anyone considered candidates who enter professional nursing, hospital administration or MD candidates who commit to practicing in any community or rural hospital. Change is hard but my God – it is so necessary – think outside the box – I beg you Mr. President.

    February 24, 2009 at 11:01 pm |
  15. nnene

    Mr. Jindal are you really talking for the people of your state or are you denying aid that families really need for your own political ambitions, because you can still help your people and have a better standing at your next election.

    February 24, 2009 at 10:56 pm |
  16. mitch

    president obama gave a very informative address and a very good speech.

    February 24, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  17. Elaine Butler

    My comment is concerning Bobby Jindal if he has done so great we need Washington to come to Baton Rouge and take a look at all the tarps on the houses that have not been repaired from Hurricane Ike and Ghustav. I have worked with the disaster programs and there are still about 65 percent of the people still not back in their holmes due to unfinished repairs. Not to mention monies that our government cannot account for that was given on behalf of the storm. Jindal seems to be a pupit not a leader I don't know how he ever made it for governor.

    February 24, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  18. Sam K

    I would just like to know when someone is going to step on credit card companies. We can only get 3 or 4 % on our own money but the I have had a card for 3 years and never missed a payment or gone over limit. They sent me a letter and probly thousands to other people and out of the blue if I want to keep my card they want me to pay 22.9 % for what being a loyal custumer. This kind of thing will the lower class because they can never get out from under the control of there dept. Someone needs to deal with these like the pres.

    February 24, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  19. roshard wilder

    It was a scripted show but he talked to the people and talked about every topic he named. He also said 10 years which is past his presidency. And used legacy. he is trying to get all of us to fix america for the future. But what did he mean about the tax break.

    February 24, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  20. Linda

    This guy is leading you into the woods not out of it – his socialist package will bring the US down! Wake up Dems, pull the rose-colored glasses off those eyes and take a good look at your socialist/marxist admin preparing to change this country and that of others for good – and you won't be liking it at all. Wake up people before it is toooooooo late!

    February 24, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  21. Rita in Orlando, Florida

    he fills me with hope and makes me want to get involved. I think it's great that he isn't leaving the change up to GOVERNMENT, but encourages and gives incentive for the PEOPLE to do their part as well. (college assistance for community charity work) that is just awesome.
    It can't be done by one man, one party, or one government....but it can be done by ONE NATION!!!!

    February 24, 2009 at 10:28 pm |
  22. anna v fuentes

    god send a good man help poor people and anybody need help god will bless him with all god heart

    February 24, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  23. nafta

    I'm amused by Obama's overwhelming mention of lending and debt and the necessity of same in resucitating the economy. Whatever happened to the old concept of work, save, then spend or invest?

    Perhaps if we had practiced that old idea we wouldn't have had the massive housing bubble, which after all, is the major reason why we are in this current mess.

    February 24, 2009 at 9:38 pm |
  24. john saylor

    Obama came in witha promise of real change but washington got its way a nd tax cheats handle our money congress hands out the pork it sounds like business as usual.

    February 24, 2009 at 9:08 pm |
  25. Linda

    It is one of many great ironies of the Obama presidency that he is demanding massive troop reinforcements to be sent to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban terrorists who were initially armed, trained and organised by Brzezinski, the man behind Obama. As Morpheus says in The Matrix: 'Fate, it seems, is not without its sense of irony'.

    But then, in Brzezinski's case, it is not 'fate', but cold calculation that has brought it all about. The Poland-born Brzezinski has a fierce hatred of Russia and that is still one of his key targets, together with China.

    And if they are Brzezinski's targets, they are Obama's targets.

    February 24, 2009 at 8:27 pm |
  26. Linda

    'If we're going to create some kind of national police force as big, powerful and well funded as our combined U.S. military forces, isn't this rather a big deal? I thought Democrats generally believed the U.S. spent too much on the military.

    How is it possible their candidate is seeking to create some kind of massive but secret national police force that will be even bigger than the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force put together? Is Obama serious about creating some kind of domestic security force bigger and more expensive than that? If not, why did he say it? What did he mean?'

    February 24, 2009 at 8:25 pm |
  27. Linda

    Obama comes from the same stable, but on a massively bigger scale and with a whole network of advisors and controllers steeped in the art of manipulating minds, opinions and actions.

    Obama's written-for-him speeches are not from the heart, but from the autocue. The 'heart' bit comes from extensive training and his Bill Clintonesque ability to 'mean it when he says it', a state of delivery that goes beyond mere acting. Tony Blair was trained in the same way.

    February 24, 2009 at 8:23 pm |
  28. Jim M

    So much for bail-out proposals which are keeping us treading iwater. When are we going to hear how the ship of state is going to be repaired to keep it from becoming the Titanic. What we have had so far is a rescue effort equal to that which Bush gave New Orleans re: Katrina. Now, fix the levies and let us rebuild.

    Let us honestly know how the regs are going to be enforced and the major changes that will be proposed to the tax system – especially the income tax, to pay for it all.

    February 24, 2009 at 7:45 pm |
  29. Joe G. (From Illinois)

    Smart sailors pull into the docks during high seas, storms and hurricanes. Even illiterate farmers have enough common sense to gather up all their farm animals and to buckle up their families during tornados.. But here, despite the fact that we have been lucky enough to have a Housing Bubble burst into our faces.. “Only our faces” (Not the entire body our future generations) people have decided to sponsor a “Unique” Obama who wants to reinvent the wheel and do things differently. I mean we have been given the opportunity to let things “Vent” at a fair market price and to let things go back to their True/Normal Figures (Non Bubble Figures) But no.. Here we have an Obama “Hero” who wants to practice “Change.” Why is it that Obama can’t explain what’s so wrong with True Value Figures (Non Bubble Values of Houses, Investments) that he is fighting so much for to bring back up?

    February 24, 2009 at 7:25 pm |
  30. Salas

    A lot of things are going to emerge from tonight address,but whichever statement he makes and whatever policy he outlined will be geared towards bringing the economy at of the woods.Now is the time more than ever that americans needs to demonstrate an unwavering support for their president,people should re-commit themselves towards emerging from the downturn much more stronger by a doubling their patrotism and believing the stimulus plan will work.America needs to take 4,5 steps if she wants to be reckoned again after the crises.

    February 24, 2009 at 6:56 pm |
  31. Gene Penszynski from Vermont

    God's Speed Mr. President. Most Americans are with you and praying for you to succeed. The fate of our nation is at stake. The time has come to work together to get over this. Those that refuse for Political Dogmatic reasons will be relegated to the ash heap of history and they WILL fade from view.

    February 24, 2009 at 6:51 pm |
  32. Annie Kate

    It will be nice to hear how Obama is going to integrate all his items together and what he hopes to achieve along with economic recovery. And I hope he reassures that those of us already dependent on our social security for support that we have nothing to worry about.

    February 24, 2009 at 6:38 pm |
  33. xtina, chicago IL

    Obama represents the biggest spending bill in history. So much for "change" in Washington.

    February 24, 2009 at 6:21 pm |