With the debt limit deal complete, even as it has been vigorously criticized by both sides of the political spectrum, President Barack Obama is due to arrive in his hometown Wednesday evening for a fundraising concert and dinner that is being billed as a celebration of his 50th birthday, which is Thursday.
Tickets for the celebration, as NBC Chicago reports, run the gamut from $50 for a concert, featuring Chicago natives Jennifer Hudson, Herbie Hancock and OK Go at Uptown's historic Aragon Ballroom, to as much as nearly $36,000 per person for a private dinner with the President the same evening. The event marks the president's first hometown fundraiser since April.
(Scroll down to see some of Obama's favorite Chicago hangouts.)
Republicans both locally and nationally have expressed frustration with Obama's birthday fundraiser. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney tweeted early Tuesday: "@BarackObama celebrates his 50th bday & collects $35,800 checks but IL is struggling due to his failed policies." The tweet also features a link to a video titled "Obama Isn't Working: Chicago," which includes footage of an empty Grant Park as well as daunting unemployment and home sales statistics.
The notoriously obnoxious Tea Party-aligned conservative pundit William J. Kelly and his "Kelly Truth Squad" will be hosting a so-called Jobs Bash reception at the Green Mill, across the street from the Aragon beginning at 3 p.m. Kelly has called for "the unemployed and underemployed to bring their resumes" to the event and "call on the President to own up to the high U.S. unemployment figures."
"Barack Obama is only concerned about one job and that is his own," Kelly wrote in a description of the event on his website. "He is in town for a birthday fundraiser after sending a debt limit deathblow to American businesses."
In preparation for the event, Uptown Update reports that trucks have been spotted unloading equipment in front of the theater for several days and "a lot of guys in dark suits [are] keeping an eye on the 'hood," which will experience some inconveniences to drivers, pedestrians and commuters alike on account of the commander-in-chief's appearance.
According to Uptown Update, street congestion is expected to be high as Lawrence Avenue and surrounding streets will be closed for much of the evening. Train delays along the Red Line near the Lawrence stop are anticipated. Beginning around 4 p.m., the blog added this morning, pedestrians looking to access their residences on otherwise blocked-off parts of Lawrence Avenue will be required to show identification.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina told WBEZ that the debt ceiling negotiations in Washington led to the cancelation or postponement of 10 fundraisers involving Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley over the course of the last month. Those cancelations mean his campaign is expecting to raise several million fewer dollars this summer compared to the amount it raised in the spring.
If you weren't able to snag tickets to the fundraiser or dinner, it might be worth a shot to check out some of the president's favorite hangouts in town (highlighted below) for the off chance that he sneaks away from the festivities before he skips town once again.