News / USA

President Obama Hosts Twitter 'Town Hall' on Economy

President Barack Obama types during his live-tweet as Twitter co-founder and Executive Chairman Jack Dorsey looks on during the first-ever Twitter Town Hall, July 6, 2011, in the East Room of the White House
President Barack Obama types during his live-tweet as Twitter co-founder and Executive Chairman Jack Dorsey looks on during the first-ever Twitter Town Hall, July 6, 2011, in the East Room of the White House

President Barack Obama on Wednesday held his first-ever "Town Hall" meeting using the social media network Twitter, focusing on the U.S. economy and jobs.   A chief executive not known for brevity fielded questions from across the United States in a more than an hour-long session from the East Room of the White House.


Mr. Obama's responses were summarized in Twitter posts by the White House, abiding by the standard 140-keyboard-character format, but he was not constrained in his spoken responses.

The event was streamed live on the White House web site and on a special page created by Twitter, carried by major cable news networks and on the web sites of numerous media organizations.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey began by pointing to what he called a spirited worldwide online debate about the future, including America's financial security, in which Mr. Obama's name figured prominently.

"Today this vibrant discussion comes here to the White House and you get to ask the questions," Dorsey said.

With about 140 invited observers looking on in the East Room, President Obama sat briefly at a laptop bearing the presidential seal, and typed an opening tweet:  "In order to reduce the deficit, what costs would you cut and what investments would you keep?"  

He then answered a first question, read to him from a large TV screen by Dorsey, from New Hampshire Twitter user William Smith, asking what mistakes Mr. Obama felt he had made in handling the U.S. recession and what he would do differently.

The president said he acted correctly with his $800 billion recovery program and rescue of the U.S. auto industry, but mentioned this shortcoming.

"One would have been to explain to the American people that it was going to take a while for us to get out of this," he said.  "Even I did not realize the magnitude, because most economists did not realize the magnitude of the recession until fairly far into it, maybe two or three months into my presidency where we started realizing we had lost three or four million jobs before I was even sworn in."

Other questions covered unemployment, the state of U.S. manufacturing, high costs of education, and hard negotiations with Congress over raising the federal debt ceiling and cutting trillions of dollars in deficit spending.

One tweet asked if Mr. Obama would use his executive power under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to raise the government borrowing limit before an August 2 deadline.

The president used his response to urge lawmakers to work with him to achieve a compromise on the debt ceiling issue which he said if not resolved could spiral the country into another recession.

"The notion that the U.S. is going to default on its debt it just irresponsible, and my expectation is that over the next week to two weeks that Congress, working with the White House, comes up with a deal that solves our deficits, solves our debt problems and makes sure that our full faith and credit is protected," he said.

One tweet that got through thousands filtered by Twitter was from Representative John Boehner, Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives and key critic of the president's policies.

Here, Dorsey reads the question from Boehner, followed by part of Mr. Obama's response.

"After embarking on a record spending binge that’s left us deeper in debt, where are the jobs?"

"We are each month seeing growth in jobs but when you have got a eight-million-job hole and you're only filling it 100,000 or 200,000 jobs at a time each month, obviously what is way too long for a whole lot of folks out of work," the president said.

Other questions dealt with homeowners unable sell their under-valued homes, America's troubled public education system, and reducing the nation's dependence on imported oil, and the U.S. space program.

This was a portion of Mr. Obama's response to one questioner who suggested cutting U.S. foreign aid "to countries that waste it [such as] Pakistan."

"America, to be a leader in the world, to have influence, to help stabilize countries, to create opportunity for people so they don't breed terrorists, or create huge refugee flows and so forth, it is is smart for us to make a very modest investment in foreign aid," he said. "It is a force multiplier, and it is something that even in tough fiscal times America needs to continue to do as part of our role as a global leader."

The White House viewed the Twitter event as part of its expanding use of social media to communicate with Americans.  White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer says it's no longer possible to do so only through mainstream media.

"When we do things with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, it is similar to what previous presidents did with more traditional outlets like the networks and the major papers," he said.

President Obama participated in a Facebook event earlier this year at the California headquarters of the social media giant.

White House officials said they will look at analytical data Twitter provides, in conjunction with some of its partners, for more insights as Mr. Obama continues to use social media to reach out to the public.

**Watch the entire Twitter town hall session or read some highlights below:

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs