Several high-ranking administration officials have confirmed that the White House laid out plans for the address as far back as the last calendar year, with the president’s economic team and other senior staff members “meeting regularly since February to put the policy together and work on the speech.”

In presenting a fiscal roadmap, the administration aimed to demonstrate Obama’s fundamental seriousness towards what is widely perceived to be a looming deficit crisis. But the speech also illuminated both the lack of communication between the White House and Capitol Hill and a growing conviction among insiders that the president must move the deficit debate off center stage in order to tackle other domestic priorities…

Yet build-up to the speech illustrated more than reactions to it. Capitol Hill officials, including the White House’s top allies, say they were left completely in the dark. No one, it appears, knew Obama would deliver an address until his top aide, David Plouffe, announced plans on the Sunday shows. Key aides were briefed on its content only days (if not hours) before the president took the stage.