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Obama Courts Wealthy New York Donors After Tax Boost Pitch

Obama Courts Wealthy New York Donors After Tax Boost Pitch
President Barack Obama speaks to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's 34th Annual Awards Gala at the Washington Convention Center on September 14, 2011. Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images

Sept. 19 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama told a group of wealthy New York donors who could pay higher taxes under a plan he announced hours earlier that he is in “a battle for the hearts and minds of America” and needs their continued support.

“We were able to pull this economy out of a great depression,” Obama said of the recession, speaking to a gathering of 60 contributors tonight at a $35,800-per-ticket event at the New York home of Ralph Schlosstein and Jane Hartley. At the same time, he said unemployment is too high nationwide and more relief is needed for “ordinary folks.”

Schlosstein is chief executive officer of Evercore Partners Inc. Hartley is chief executive officer and co-founder of the economic and political advisory firm Observatory Group LLC. said.

“We have been able to stabilize the financial system,” Obama said. “What has been clear over the last 2½ years is that we have not had a willing partner” to salvage “the American dream” for those enduring economic hardship. He cited “irreconcilable differences” with Republicans.

Roger Altman, Evercore’s founder and chairman who was deputy Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, co-hosted the event, according to a person familiar with the matter who wasn’t authorized to discuss it on the record.

Bon Jovi at Event

Donors at the event included the singer Jon Bon Jovi and Peter Orszag, vice chairman of global banking at Citigroup Inc. and Obama’s former director of the Office of Management and Budget, also attended the fundraiser. Professional basketball player Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks also attended the event, according to a Democratic official.

Evercore was one of the firms advising AT&T Inc. on its $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile USA, which the U.S. Justice Department is challenging on antitrust grounds in a suit filed Aug. 31.

Earlier today, Obama spoke in the White House Rose Garden and called for raising taxes on people with incomes of $1 million or more per year as part of a plan for $3 trillion in deficit cuts over a decade. He previously proposed limiting deductions for taxpayers in the top income brackets.

The ticket price for tonight’s event includes a $5,000 maximum contribution to Obama’s re-election fund and a $30,800 annual maximum to the Democratic National Committee.

Obama arrived in New York in the early evening and is to stay through Sept. 21 to attend a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. He plans to attend additional fundraisers during his stay.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hans Nichols in New York at hnichols2@bloomberg.net; Margaret Talev in New York at mtalev@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net.

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