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 Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid