President Obama will speak to a joint session of Congress at 7:00 p.m. Thursday evening to unveil his latest proposals to stimulate the economy and create jobs through federal spending on infrastructure, education and “clean energy” development,  and possibly also to stimulate the housing market or assist homeowners facing mortgage problems. 

In a letter to Congressional leaders, Obama said the nation faces “unprecedented economic challenges” and “millions of hardworking Americans continue to look for jobs.”

“Washington needs to put aside politics and start making decisions based on what is best for our country and not what is best for each of our parties in order to grow the economy and create jobs.  We must answer this call,” Obama wrote.

The President did not disclose any details, but White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, “The immediate task here is to spur growth and accelerate hiring.”

“He will talk about how we can take actions now to enhance growth and accelerate hiring within the context of doing the things that we need to do for the long term to get our deficits under control, our debt under control, and to create the kind of economic environment we need to dominate the 21st century in the same way we did the 20th,” Carney said.  ” And that includes investments in infrastructure, education, clean energy and the like.”

“As you know, restoring the health of the housing market after its dramatic collapse is an important goal, and it’s not an easy task,” Carney added.  “We have been committed since the day this President was sworn into office to taking steps that will help us do that, and we continue to look at new ideas for how to do that.  There’s many measures that we have taken that have resulted in many, many families being able to stay in their homes, to restructure their mortgages, and to allow themselves to stay in their homes.”

Some media suggested the presidential speech would sound familiar.  “The president is likely to discuss items he has pitched before, including an extension of payroll tax cuts, a string of free-trade deals, and new infrastructure projects — items he said Republicans and Democrats should agree on,” reported USAToday.

Obama has been urged by a number of liberal commentators, however, to “go big” with an expansive spending program, even at the risk of having it rejected by Republicans opposed to increasing the federal deficit.  Then Obama could campaign against “do-nothing” Republicans, the commentators suggest.

As Obama himself told radio commentator Tom Joyner, “If Congress does not act, then I’m going to be going on the road and talking to folks — and this next election very well may end up being a referendum on whose vision of America is better.”

While he urged Congressional leaders to “put aside politics,”  Obama stepped  into a political thicket by first asking to address Congress at 8:00 p.m., Wednesday.   As House Speaker John Boehner noted in a response, that is the exact time of a scheduled debate at the Ronald Reagan library in California among candidates for the Republican nomination for president.  Boehner also also said the House would be in session and taking votes until late afternoon on Wednesday, leaving insufficient time for security sweeps before the presidential speech.

Obama relented and agreed to move his speech to Thursday, when it will be hemmed in by another even t–  the first game of the National Football League regular season between the New Orleans Saints and the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers from Lambeau Field, with coverage beginning at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, on the NBC television network and kickoff at 8:30.  The unusually early 7:00 p.m. start for Obama will avoid the potentially embarrassing spectacle of a presidential speech on the most important domestic issue losing in the television ratings to a football game.

“Clean energy” development has been a favorite subject of the Obama Administration, which has committed billions of dollars to grants, loans and loan guarantees to encourage growth in the sector.  These efforts took a hit this week, however, when Solyndra LLC of Fremont, California, a maker of rooftop solar panels, suspended operations and announced plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy despite receiving more than $500 million direct federal loans.  Solyndra’s costs were far above the market price of solar panels, analysts said.

“We have always recognized that not every one of the innovative companies supported by our loans and loan guarantees would succeed,” the Energy Department said in a statement.  “But we can’t stop investing in game-changing technologies that are key to America’s leadership in the global economy.”