Obama to Pitch Economic Case to Nation

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CBNNews.com - President Obama will pitch his agenda to the country tonight in a joint session of Congress amid growing job losses, home foreclosures, and businesses shutting down.

These all point to what has become America's biggest concern: the economy and historic levels of government spending.

Click the player to watch the report from CBN News Washington Correspondent John Jessup and hear comments from CBN News Correspondent David Brody.

"We cannot simply spend as we please and defer the consequences to the next budget, the next administration or the next generation," President Obama said Monday.

One week after signing his $787 billion recovery plan into law, the president is shifting his focus to the long-term and the need to chip away at the exploding federal deficit, which now stands at $1.3 trillion.

"I'm pledging to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office," Obama added. "Now, this will not be easy but I refuse to leave our children with a debt they cannot repay and that means taking responsibility right now in this administration by getting our spending under control."

Obama plans to do that, in part, by letting the Bush tax cuts on upper income Americans expire at the end of 2010 and streamlining government.

The President also plans to cut the amount of money going to the Iraq war.

In what was perhaps a prelude to tonight's speech, the President also called for reforming social security and overhauling health care, which he wants to require for all Americans.

But according to a new government report, health care costs per person this year will top $8,000.

"The biggest of our deficit is the rising cost of health care, it's a challenge that impacts businesses, workers and families alike," Obama said.

The President will call again for bipartisanship as the nation faces tough challenges in both domestic and foreign policy.

"On the one hand the majority has to be inclusive. On the other hand, the minority have to be constructive," he said.

Tonight's speech precedes more talk of the economy and government spending.

Thursday, the president delivers his first official budget to Congress, a blueprint on spending for next year.

Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the top Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said Obama's speech amounts to a coming-out party.

"You never know what a salesman's going to sell you until he shows up at your door," Issa said of his expectations.

"If he gives us a narrow set of priorities that can be executed, and they don't just involve more spending, then I think it will be refreshing. If he gives us a long laundry list, which most presidents do, then although it will set the agenda. it won't be as meaningful."

The president is also likely to put the tough-to-explain economic situation in plainer terms.

His speech is tentatively at 45 minutes, accounting for applause time.

CBNNews.com will stream the President's speech tonight at 9:00.  Then watch a special update on The 700 Club tonight at 11:00 Eastern on the ABC Family Channel.  Check local listings.

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John Jessup

CBN News Reporter

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