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Grim economic news as Obama marks birthday at White House

President Obama and Herbie Hancock


A plummeting stock market is proving an inauspicious omen for President Obama as he turns 50 on today.

The White House says it will be a day of low-key celebrations despite the milestone birthday. Obama will be toasted by his staff this afternoon before having a private dinner with family and close friends in the residence. No public appearances were planned.

The president did enjoy something of a public celebration Wednesday during a series of campaign events in his hometown of Chicago. Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson led the crowd at one in singing “Happy Birthday” to the commander in chief.

Photos: White House debt negotiations

“It is true I turn 50 tomorrow, which means that by the time I wake up I’ll have an email from AARP asking me to call President Obama and tell him to protect Medicare,” Obama joked at one of the events, an allusion to the recent debt-limit fight.

First Lady Michelle Obama also noted one of the visible signs of her husband’s age — and the stress of his job — in an email to campaign supporters.

“Every day, I see Barack make choices he knows will affect every American family. That’s no small task for anyone — and more proof that he’s earning every last one of those gray hairs,” she wrote.

Obama was tending to the nation’s business on Thursday, monitoring the steep downturn on Wall Street — a reminder that the economy will be the biggest challenge of his 51st year.

Spokesman Jay Carney was peppered with questions about what Obama could do differently to boost the economy, beyond what he’s already tried.

“He is working very closely with his senior economic advisors to come up with new proposals to help advance growth and job creation. He is working with members of Congress to help advance growth and job creation. And he will continue to do that,” Carney said.

In addition to a Midwest bus tour announced Wednesday, Obama is also planning trips to Northern Virginia and Michigan next week to discuss the new auto fuel-efficiency standards that were unveiled, but largely overshadowed, during the debt-ceiling fight.

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