President Barack Obama takes center stage on Tuesday to try to sell the American people on his broader agenda for jolting the United States out of deep recession and confronting long-term economic challenges.
Riding high in opinion polls, Obama will deliver a State of the Union-style address at 9 p.m. EST in his first appearance before a joint session of Congress since he took office five weeks ago.
The primetime speech, the opening act on Capitol Hill for any new president, comes in a pivotal week for Obama. He will roll out his firstbudget proposal on Thursday against a backdrop of growing public anxiety over the worst economic crisis in decades.
In a stark reminder of how grim the situation has become, Wall Street slumped to a 12-year low on Monday as investors worried about the government nationalizing ailing major banks, a prospect the White House tried to play down.