His payroll tax cut plan might be stuck in Congress, but President Obama found another way to boost consumer spending Wednesday: He went Christmas shopping.
Obama ducked out of the White House at about 12:45 p.m. for a quick jaunt into Virginia, where he dropped more than $235 in less than an hour.
The excursion began at some big box stores at Potomac Yards in Alexandria. With his wife Michelle and two daughters already vacationing in Hawaii, Obama brought the only remaining member of the family with him: Bo, the Portuguese water dog.
It was a good trip for the nation’s first dog. The first stop was a Pet Smart, where the president purchased a dog bone and a chew toy totalling $41. Bo also was spied by nosy reporters and paparazzi sizing up a brown poodle named “Cinnamon.”
“Okay, Bo, don’t get too personal here,” Obama admonished, clutching Bo’s leash.
The trip came in the middle of what might otherwise have been another tense day for the president, who just before leaving the White House called House Speaker John A. Boehner and implored him to support a two-month extension to the payroll tax that remains in limbo.
Obama has delayed his annual winter vacation in Honolulu, even though his family decamped from D.C. last Friday. He has not said whether he intends to join them for Christmas, but his shopping trip included picking up some gifts for daughters Malia and Sasha.
After Pet Smart, Obama went into into Best Buy, heading to the Wii section and buying a game called “Just Dance 3.”
“The girls beat me every time on these dance games,” he quipped to reporters, adding: “You’ll never get a picture of me [playing] because I get graded F every time.”
He also bought a pair of $50 iTunes gift cards and an unidentified game for an economy-boosting total of $194.48. “Let’s see if my credit card still works,” he said. It did.
The last stop was a short drive away at Del Ray Pizzeria, where the president shared a slice with Rep. James Moran (D-Va.) and picked up a carry-out order of three pies before heading back to the White House.
For an administration that is promising that the payroll tax cut plan will put an additional $40 per paycheck into the pockets of an average American worker, the president’s shopping excursion drew some gentle barbs from reporters.
“Bo’s chew toy. . .Close to #40dollars,” Fox TV correspondent Ed Henry wrote on his Twitter account.