President Barack Obama, in a fundraising foray to Hollywood and the West Coast, attacked Republicans for favoring the wealthy and stepped up a campaign- style drive to win support for his $447 billion jobs package.
At a rally at House of Blues on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, the president, trying to fatten his war chest for the 2012 presidential election, pleaded for help in repelling what he described as his opponents’ retrograde approach to solving the nation’s problems.
Republicans want to “cut taxes for folks who don’t need it,” Obama said yesterday in his visit to Los Angeles. “That’s not the vision you believe in, and that’s not the vision I believe in.”
Republicans, including the field of presidential hopefuls, would eliminate vital regulations, leave the country with “dirtier air” and “let the banks do whatever they want,” Obama said to about 800 supporters who paid $250 and up to attend the rally. “Yes, we’re going through tough times. But the question is where do we go from here?”
At the Fig and Olive Restaurant, his second stop in Hollywood, Obama said “The other side has a very different idea about where to take this country.” His audience included entertainment executives among a group of about 120 people who paid $17,900 each. He said his vision is “big, optimistic” and “not a cramped vision that says you’re on your own.”
Conceding he is grayer and “ all dinged up” from the battles back in Washington, the president said, “I’m going to need your help, so don’t get tired on me now.”
“We must keep fighting for him so he can keep fighting for us,” Katzenberg said.
Among the group of backers were actor-singer Jamie Foxx, film director Judd Apatow and Quincy Jones, chairman and chief executive of Quincy Jones Productions Inc. Governor Jerry Brown of California also attended.
The event at the House of Blues, part of a group of live concert halls and restaurants on the Sunset Strip, was disrupted by a man close to the stage who began shouting, “Christian God is the one and only true living God, the creator of Heaven and the Universe.” He was hustled out by the Secret Service.
Obama is wrapping up a three-day swing to the West Coast and Colorado that included nine appearances, seven of them fundraisers. He raised money in the Seattle and San Francisco Bay areas, San Diego and Los Angeles. The campaign is seeking to raise at least $4 million before a Sept. 30 deadline to file campaign finance reports.
Today, the president visits a Denver high school to push his jobs agenda and urge people to pressure Congress to pass it. A vote in the Senate is expected next month, according to the White House.
The plan includes $25 billion for renovation, asbestos abatement and science labs in 35,000 public high schools and $5 billion to modernize community colleges. It also proposes to spend $35 billion to prevent the layoff of as many as 280,000 teachers and support hiring of tens of thousands of police and firefighters, according to a White House fact sheet.
At a fundraiser in San Diego yesterday, Obama warned supporters that the 2012 campaign would be difficult. Voters are “frustrated” because of the economy, he said, and they have “got to be convinced, got to be persuaded, and I can’t do it alone. You guys are my ambassadors, my advocates, my shock troops.”
Answering questions earlier yesterday at a forum organized with LinkedIn Corp., the social and business networking website in Mountain View, California, Obama said the nation can’t afford to wait until the presidential and congressional elections next year to act on boosting growth.
He cited forecasts from independent economists that say his plan to cut payroll taxes for workers and employers, spend money on infrastructure repairs and give aid to states to stem teacher layoffs would add as much as 2 percentage points to economic growth next year and 1.9 million jobs.
“It’s the right step to take right now,” Obama said of the proposal he announced earlier this month.
The economy will be the top issue for voters, and Obama is confronting persistently high unemployment and sluggish growth. The White House Office of Management and Budget forecast in August that the economy will expand 2.6 percent next year with the jobless rate averaging 9 percent. That didn’t take into account the impact of the jobs plan.
Payroll Tax Cuts
The payroll-tax cuts, the centerpiece of the plan, cover the first $106,800 in earnings and are evenly split between employers and employees. Obama would reduce the portion paid by workers next year to 3.1 percent from 6.2 percent. The rate had been cut 2 percentage points under the terms of a tax deal reached last year, which is set to expire Dec. 31.
The president said the difficulties in the U.S. reflect what is happening in the global economy. The financial crisis brought on by the European debt crisis “is scaring the world,” he said.
European governments are “trying to take responsible actions, but those actions haven’t been quite as quick as they need to be,” Obama said.
As European officials discussed plans to tame the 18-month debt crisis, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index jumped 2.3 percent in New York yesterday. Ten-year U.S. Treasury note yields increased six basis points to 1.90 percent, rising from near a record low.
Obama’s trip marks his 10th stop in California, his fourth in Colorado and third in Washington since becoming president in January 2009.
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