Business, Economics and Jobs

"Happy birthday, Mr. President" sung, Obama goes back to work


President Barack Obama (R) walks on stage at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, Illinios, Aug. 3, 2011, as Herbie Hancock (L), members of the band OkGo (C), Jennifer Hudson (3rd R) and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (2nd R) sing "happy birthday" to him.


Jim Watson

President Barack Obama planned to spend at least part of his 50th birthday in the Oval Office working, before celebrating at the White House with family and friends and a weekend at Camp David.

Celebrations began Wednesday, when he reportedly took aides out for pre-birthday burgers and fries on Capitol Hill. Later that night he hosted a fundraiser for his 2012 campaign in Chicago, where about 2,400 supporters shelled out $50 each to wear birthday hats and listen to the president before performances by Jennifer Hudson, OK Go, and Herbie Hancock.

"It’s true that I turn 50 tomorrow," Obama told the crowd, "which means that by the time I wake up I’ll have an email from AARP asking me to call President Obama and tell him to protect Medicare." 

In the wake of the debt ceiling deal, CBS News writes that Obama already got what he wanted for his birthday:

Back in June, the president told NPR that what he really wanted for his 50th birthday was a debt ceiling deal. He got that gift, of course, just two days ahead of his birthday today. But at a fundraiser that doubled as a birthday celebration last night, the president acknowledged that few are happy with the way the deal was reached.

"Obviously, we've just gone through an extraordinary week in Washington, an extraordinary two weeks in Washington," he told a group of 100 wealthy supporters the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. "It's not the kind of extraordinary the American people are looking for."

Obama defended the debt package as "responsible" in paying down the national debt and added that it's "not going to dismantle our social safety net." He also took a jab at Republicans, remarking, "I give the other side credit. They are single-minded in their focus in wanting to cut programs and shrink government."

The Guardian had opined that with U.S. poll ratings languishing at 43 percent, Obama may not feel much like celebrating. 

Indeed, according to the Huffington Post, Obama planned to spend Thursday morning at work as usual in the Oval Office. 

However, on Thursday evening senior White House staff were reportedly set to gather in the Blue Room for a toast, and that night, he would celebrate with family and friends, including some coming in for the occasion from his hometown of Chicago.

An administration official said the Obamas would foot the bill for the celebrations.

The president will then spend the weekend at his Camp David retreat in Maryland.