WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama defended his strategy of tackling multiple challenges instead of focusing solely on fixing the U.S. economy in a return on Wednesday to the political fund-raising that helped elect him.
Obama helped fellow Democrats bring in at least $3 million during two events, his first fund-raisers since taking office more than two months ago.
He used his speeches to defend his proposed $3.55 trillion budget plan as the key to reviving the U.S. economy.
Critics in Washington say Obama is trying to do too many things at once, complicating his efforts to mend the economy.
Many political experts say he needs to act now, while he remains popular with the American people, to win congressional passage of his top policy priorities.
“I’m not going to kick these problems down the road for another four years, another eight years, to the next president, the next generation,” he told cheering supporters. “We’re going to tackle ‘em now.”
Obama defended his approach, saying his budget is inseparable from repairing the economy.
To ignore some problems, he argued, would amount to delaying action, which he said would “duplicate the irresponsibility that led us to this point.”
Republicans and many Democrats worry about the budget deficits that will be expanded under his spending proposals to overhaul healthcare, education and energy policies.
The fund-raising was a return to a duty that helped clear the way for Obama’s presidential victory in November. The Democrat raised some $750 million during that campaign.
Talking to supporters who helped him win the presidency, Obama referred to what he called Washington’s tendency to declare a winner and loser each day on cable television talk shows.
“One day, I’m a genius. One day, I’m a bum. You know, every day there’s a new winner and a new loser,” he said.
Obama’s first event was a dinner attended by about 150 people. Tickets were $30,400 per couple. The second featured singer Tony Bennett and attracted 2,000 people who paid up to $2,500 and as little as $100 for tickets.
Organizers said Obama raised between $3 million and $3.5 million at the events, funds that will help Democrats compete in elections this year and in 2010, when the party will attempt to hold and build on its majorities in the U.S. Congress.
As lawmakers pick apart his budget on Capitol Hill, Obama is using the heft of his grassroots support organization, Organizing for America, to pressure Democrats and some Republicans to back his budget proposal.
“I hope you’re ready to continue rolling up your sleeves,” Obama told supporters at his first event. “Our work is not yet done. It’s not yet time to celebrate. But we’re going to get it done. I’m absolutely confident.”
Additional reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Paul Simao