February 1st, 2010
04:16 PM ET
13 years ago

Obama answers questions from public in YouTube interview

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/01/art.boclap0201.gi.jpg caption="The president took questions Monday from YouTube users that were submitted beginning last week when he gave his first State of the Union address."]
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama appeared live on the computer screens of Americans across the country Monday, answering questions they had posed.

In an interview distributed on YouTube, the popular Internet video site, Obama lobbied for his job creation and clean energy plans while disputing one questioner's premise that he broke a campaign promise to conduct business in the open.

"People know more about the inner workings of this White House, the meetings we have," than they did under previous administrations, Obama said in response to a question from a man named Warren. "We have followed through on a lot of what we said, so Warren's mistaken in how he characterized it."

At the same time, Obama acknowledged that some later negotiations on health care reform occurred out of the public eye. He said that would change as he works with Congress in "the last five yards before we get to the goal-line."

"No secrets, no surprises," Obama said of the final health care proposals.

Steve Grove, the YouTube news and political director, sat with Obama in the White House to moderate the interview. Grove posed questions submitted and then voted on by YouTube viewers as the best offerings - some in video clips and some by e-mail.

According to YouTube, 55,340 people asked 11,695 questions for the interview. Voters then cast 643,507 votes to determine the top questions. The White House received no advance information about the questions to be asked, Grove wrote in a blog.

The questions covered major policy issues including the economy, terrorism, clean energy, health care and education costs.

Asked by a small business owner about what kind of help to expect, Obama outlined the tax relief contained in his 2011 budget proposal released earlier in the day.

A jobs bill contained in the budget would eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses and provide tax credits for hiring new employees, the president said.

He added a plug for health care reform, saying "nobody benefits more from our health care proposals than small businesses," which would get tax credits for providing health insurance for workers and realize lower costs by purchasing coverage through a proposed insurance exchange.

Another caller noted the federal bailout of large banks while people continue to have trouble getting home loans and other credit. Obama said a government loan modification program reached 4 million people so far, but warned that decreased home values mean continued problems for people who owe more than their property is worth.

"What we're trying to do is increase transparency and force all the banks to tell us exactly what are you doing with customers who want to stay in their homes," Obama said.

Asked about rising tuition that makes colleges and universities unaffordable, Obama said steps have been taken to provide more grants and help relieve student loan debt. At the same time, he said, colleges and universities have to cut costs.

Obama said statistics show that a college education greatly increases earning power, and he added that it also makes people more productive citizens.

The ability to think critically, analyze problems and develop arguments helps people make decisions about their lives and participate "in the life of their country," the president said.

When a viewer asked if he was ending the war on terror, Obama specified that the war was against al Qaeda and its extremist allies that seek to harm the United States and its allies.

Calling al Qaeda "probably biggest killer of Muslims of any entity outthere," Obama said the strategy is to "fight them all fronts," including along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. At the same time, he said, the United States should fight the battle of ideas with terrorists, working with the "overwhelming majority of Muslims who reject senseless violence."

In response to a question on Sudan, Obama provided a detailed analysis of efforts by his government and others to bring the successful implementation of a peace treaty that calls for elections this year.

However, he noted the risk of renewed conflict, as well as the long-term development needs of refugees from the Darfur region whose homes and villages were destroyed in the genocide.

If Sudan President Omar al-Bashir's government fails to live up to its responsibilities, Obama said, "then it is going to be appropriate for us to conclude that engagement doesn't work" and seek ways to apply additional

The final question was on energy policy, and Obama outlined a diverse strategy that included increasing nuclear power and developing clean-coal technology while also expanding alternative sources such as solar and wind energy.

While calling alternative energy sources a "key driver" of long-term economic development, Obama also noted that nuclear energy emits no greenhouse gases that cause climate change and is utilized by Japan, France and other countries much more than in the United States.

In addition, Obama said it is "not possible at this point to completely eliminate coal from our menu of energy options."

He acknowledged skepticism about the concept of "clean coal" production, but said investing in technology to reduce the harmful environmental impacts of coal energy would be wise because China, India and other emerging economies have coal-based energy needs that will need to be as clean as possible.

Updated: 4:16 p.m.

soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Emma

    The assumptions seems to be "My way is the right way and your way is wrong" among the commenters . There are those of you who think Sarah Palin is unmatchable. There are also those of you who do not have a rational set of criteria for discriminating right and wrong ways.

    Over the last nine years no way has yet been the right way for the country. Consider how the world and our country have changed over the centuries and today, how no previous century can tell us what to do for our complex world and our nation within it. I think we do have the most capable person as our President now.

    February 1, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  2. TiredofDem

    Oh you Dumbocrats. When are you going to see that Obummer's finger pointing is the act of weak character? Really, the Blaming Bush strategy is getting real old. He can either fix or not, I think not. He's deflecting blame on others to hide his insecurities and lack of abilities. The election of Obama is a grave mistake and we can only hope that we can hold the country together in the next three years until we get a competent person in.

    February 1, 2010 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  3. felicia

    I mean, i don't blame President Obama i wouldn't let bush get off easily either. People can try to shut President up blaming bush. But the fact of the matter is, it's his fault they messed all the u.s. And it's not President Obama's fault.

    February 1, 2010 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  4. Beverly

    I think he's doing a great job!

    February 1, 2010 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  5. jp,michigan

    Obama has 3 more years left to clear things up. If his 2011 budget is an indication of haw he will do it, he has failed. We, the American people can not afford this man and his administrtion. Use the power of the voting booth and call or e-mail your representative and senator, tell them continuing Obama's way is a call to rid our selves of the Obama followers on the Hill.

    February 1, 2010 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  6. Hang in there!

    Stick to your guns Mr. President – the loonies on this board don't speak for the whole country. Most of us are tired of the yelling & namecalling (yes, some of it from the Dems, but most of it from the right). The both of you hush up and just give us some reasonable solutions, please.

    February 1, 2010 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  7. andy

    The democrats will continue to praise Obama,he is the hand that feeds them considering it is the party of entitlements.I have to be a republican since ALL can not be on welfare!Sure they do not like Republicans since it is the party of workers.

    February 1, 2010 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
1 2 3 4