Obama Address Will Focus on Stimulus, Bailouts

Aides say the president will tell Americans better days are ahead.

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President Obama is expected to make two major points in his speech to a joint session of Congress tonight: arguing the case for his massive series of financial bailouts and economic stimulus plans, while at the same time, pleading for fiscal responsibility.

Obama aides say the spending blueprints are costly but temporary measures designed to lift the economy out of recession, while over the long run, Obama will be proposing an aggressive move toward a balanced budget.

"I refuse to leave our children with a debt they cannot repay," he said yesterday as he convened a "fiscal responsibility summit" in Washington. "We cannot and will not sustain deficits like these without end...We cannot simply spend as we please." Obama is expected to tell Americans in his speech tonight, at 9 p.m. Eastern time, that he plans to cut the nation's $1.3 trillion deficit in half by the end of his first term.

"He'll say we're on the right path to meeting these challenges, and there are better days ahead," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters this morning. Among the steps that have already been taken are enactment of a $787 billion stimulus plan to help end the recession, and a number of steps to help ailing financial institutions.

On Thursday, President Obama is scheduled to release an outline of his budget for next year, which will give Americans a clearer idea how serious he is about cutting government spending.