There are many reasons President Obama wanted to wrap up a debt deal this weekend: the looming Aug. 2 default deadline and the endless media coverage of Washington’s political meltdown, to name a couple.
But he also wanted to get back to some other critical business: fundraising for his 2012 campaign. Obama turns 50 on Thursday. The day before, he is scheduled to fly to his hometown of Chicago for a pair of birthday fundraisers at the Aragon Entertainment Center. The events will feature musical performers and cost up to $35,800 per person, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Obama canceled several planned fundraisers on the West coast and postponed an event in New York to stay in Washington over the past two weeks for the debt negotiations. Vice President Biden also canceled some money-raising events.
The Chicago events are sure to be filled with enthusiastic Obama diehards. Whether the president’s liberal base will feel like partying is another matter.
Liberals already are criticizing Obama for failing to stick to his push for additional revenues as part of the deal he struck with Congressional leadership late Sunday. Instead, the plan will raise the debt ceiling by as much as $2.4 trillion and enact $900 billion in immediate spending cuts, with no guarantees of a reworking of the tax code that the administration had sought.
Asked about Democratic criticism of the deal Sunday night, White House officials worked hard to put a positive spin on the president’s performance.
“I don’t think the Democrats will think he gave away the store,” one said. “Sure, some will criticize the package and some Republicans will criticize the package. The case I’d make to Democrats is the same case I’d make to the American people: This is a balanced package that holds out promise for additional deficit reduction for the country.”
The official added that the deal shows Obama, branded a socialist by many Republicans for his big-spending stimulus program and his health-care overhaul, could prove his bona fides as a deficit hawk.
“I’d make the argument to Democrats that there are some Democrats who simply don’t believe it is necessary to have deficit reduction,” the official said. “But most do, and it’s important to show the American people we are serious about deficit reduction, but do it in a way that is consistent with our principles and values.”
After the Chicago trip, one administration official, the president will hit the road several more times before his annual vacation in Martha’s Vineyard at the end of August.
“He’ll be out traveling in August before he goes on vacation for sure,” the official said. Obama will explain the debt deal, but “he’ll talk about a lot of things. He’ll be talking jobs; he’ll be talking deficits.”