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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid