U. S. President Barack Obama greets supporters during a fundraiser at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, Aug. 3, 2011. The fundraiser, billed as a 50th birthday celebration for the President, featured entertainment by Herbie Hancock and Jennifer Hudson. UPI/Scott Olson/Pool | License Photo
CHICAGO, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Liberal Democrats must understand the importance of limiting U.S. debt and government spending, President Barack Obama told his re-election campaign supporters.
"All the progressives out there -- I want you to understand, we can't just ignore this debt and deficit," he said in Chicago during the largest of three fundraising events the night before his 50th birthday.
The United States needs to get its fiscal house in order, Obama told the 2,400 cheering supporters at his first overtly political event since the deal over the debt ceiling was reached.
But he said, "Economic growth -- making ourselves more competitive -- isn't just about cutting programs."
He stressed the importance to Americans of the biblical teaching "I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper."
One of the many things that make the United States a great nation is Americans' responsibility for themselves and their neighbors, he said.
Looking ahead to the next round of debate over how to cut the federal debt an additional $1.5 trillion, Obama said: "I hope we can avoid another self-inflicted wound like the one we just saw over the last couple of weeks because we don't have time to play these partisan games. We've got too much work to do."
Later, during a small dinner with large-dollar donors who paid $35,800 each, he cast the debt deal as a badge of fiscal conservatism that adheres to core Democratic values.
"We have made a legitimate down payment on deficit reduction in a way that's actually responsible," Obama said. "But it also sets the stage for what is going to be a vigorous debate over the next year and a half."
He added: "I give the other side credit -- they are single-minded in their focus in wanting to cut programs and shrink government."