President Obama will speak to a joint session of Congress next Wednesday, confronting critics of his health care overhaul and trying to buck up supporters on an issue that's been slipping from his control under withering Republican attacks. Obama's allies have been urging him to be more specific about his plans and to take a greater role in the debate, and White House aides have signaled he will do just that.
The speech's timing suggests that top Democrats have all but given up hope for a bipartisan breakthrough by Senate Finance Committee negotiators. The White House had given those six lawmakers until Sept. 15 to draft a plan, but next week's speech comes well ahead of that deadline. Top adviser David Axelrod said today that Obama was considering being "more prescriptive" about health legislation.