February 1st, 2010
04:16 PM ET
12 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. stormerF

    With all the questions submitted,Is it not going to be easy to select the ones you have an answer for,Or just pick the easy ones? Instead of providing more Grants how about cutting the pay of the Deans and Associated educators with in the Universities and colleges? Head start does not work and we spend billions on it, After testing 4th graders it does not show it has been of any measurable help to the children.

    February 1, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  2. Dar

    If anyone truly beleives everthing that Odumbo says, then you are a fool, plain and simple, a fool. He's a salesman, do you beleive a car salesman. Come on think about it, he has to sell his ideas to us weather its right or wrong. He is a politican and you cant beleive a word that any of them say. They will tell you anything you want to hear to make you happy. Common sense folks, use it.

    2010/2012 REAL Change is coming

    February 1, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  3. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    @ Four & the door.......FYI: President Obama did not break his campaign promise! Healthcare debate in Congress WAS televised, the negotiations have never been. Usually they are held in close door informal meetings. Give it a rest!

    LOVE that President Obama IS willing to take questions from everyone!

    LOVE that President Obama spoke & answered questions, that were televised at the Republicans retreat!

    LOVE that unlike Bush, President Obama allows everyone to have access to him. Bush's audiences were screened, so that no "uncomfortable or challenging" questions could be asked!

    OBAMA 2012!

    February 1, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  4. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    Republicans WHY ALL THE NAME CALLING??????????????


    February 1, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  5. R.R.

    As Obama pointed out during the GOP Question session, the Republicans ran up an $8 trillion debt by forcing through 2 tax cuts that weren't paid for, Medicare Part D that wasn't paid for, and 2 costly wars which should have really only been 1.

    How come the Republicans had no objections to that during the 6 years they controlled Congress from 2000-2006?

    How come the Republicans had no issue taking a budget surplus and turning it into huge deficits?

    How come the Republicans NEVER during their run as the majority EVER offered ANY form of health care reform that they claim is superior to the Democrats plan?

    Why do the Republicans feel like they have the audacity as the MINORITY party to demand that 100% of their ideas be accepted, and 0% of the MAJORITY Democrats be included?

    Why does it seem that we are apparently going to reward the Republicans in the mid-terms for just saying "NO" without being willing to compromise?

    And, should the Republicans actually reclaim the majority, what will their excuse be when the Democrats turn the tables and say NO to all of their plans?

    February 1, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  6. Seth

    Phil in In. Tim Pawlenty will be the next President of the United States.

    Lord willing and the creek don't rise.

    February 1, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  7. Rickster

    lolol...what a laughable buffoon Obama is. The guy has no shame whatsoever......it's one lie after another.

    Keep following him, democrats.....he's leading you right off the cliff.

    February 1, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  8. Seth

    I agree with Trim Spending, please.

    The very word Green when used by this administration is enough to make me see red. I want to choke a polar bear single handedly every time I hear about 'green jobs' . Remember the green jobs Czar?

    All green things must come to an end (except for created Green things)

    February 1, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  9. Mickey

    WOW...a president who is actually smart enough to use the internets and the google...

    It's apparent from some of these comments from republicans...they REALLY are brain damaged...

    February 1, 2010 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  10. ken from holland, pa


    we are already off a cliff. remember the last 8 years heading in that direction? oh, that's right. guys like you said absolutely nothing. nice to see you actually found a backbone now.

    February 1, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  11. gary davis harbor oregon

    if any one thinks he isn't doing a good job , then you have blinders on and most likely from being a republican ,thaty won't open up to new ideas and forward productivity
    great job Mr. President great job.. 🙂
    amybe add nuclear to coal and you have the ability to preheat the condinsate steam from 350 degrees to above 500 degrees and the coal can then push it upward to 900 degrees for super steam . to roll a turbin and generator . and add another ESP UNIT to the out flow of gas's and smoke . to end up with clean air .and make the heat exchanger bigger . should bring down cost and creat more lower cost electical energy. plus every dam should be rolling the penstocks instead of bypassing to river flow . like at SHASTA DAM near REDDING CALIFORNIA . but that would put to much power on the grid at a lower cost . using hydro electric basically free power generation. hence the problem of lower cost and higher clean energy . the pickel of who gets the profit from energy .money money money what a great place we live in . money controls everything . not smart thinking or selflessness . but greed always wins in the end .
    but we can slowly force the corporations to give in to a lower profit for the chosen few at the top of the food chain. and help everyone profit together and with clean planet 🙂

    February 1, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  12. Jim

    Obama will lose in 2012! He will also lose the Senate and Congress well before that. Lame Duck Obama

    February 1, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  13. worriedmom

    I find it funny that you Democrats are on a high again. You are once again believing the lines that your Great One is preaching.

    You must have received your Kool Aid again. Keep believing, sheep.

    February 1, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  14. Jeff

    @Dar Where is this "Change" going to be coming from? The Republicans? I think that would just lead us back to the dark ages of the 8 years of the previous administration.

    Change won't come until the American people enlighten themselves and learn more about the issues than just the standard talking points.

    February 1, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  15. civility2010

    Obama is pushing past the politics by confronting critics of his policy directly. Kudos to intelligence and courage in the white house. It's time to put away the knee-jerk ideologies of the past and move our country forward. If all you've got is ad-hominem, guess what, nobody's interested.

    February 1, 2010 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  16. Albo58

    OMG, how many "untruths" does this President have to say before these far left sheeple realise that his words are empty? Here's a clue: his words NEVER match his actions!

    February 1, 2010 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  17. ken gile

    We cannot get out of this recession by letting prople loose jobs, Employers should be required to hire with govt. help. By doing so we will come out of this recession naturally Laying off workers will only prolong it. States should be given money to hire new workers. and be allowed to borrow from the fed. govt.at no interest in order to increase the job market/ The recessioh will take care of itself as more people start to spend and pay taxes..

    February 1, 2010 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  18. galen

    You Republican's are so JEALOUS!

    February 1, 2010 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  19. Tree

    What baffles me are those on here who are insulting those of us who support and trust the President. Despite historic facts and the past 8 years you guys actually trust Republicans? And we dems are the sheep????? Your support for republicans is inconceivable. You may see us as ignorant, but you guys are clearly inadherant which is 1,000 times worse.

    February 1, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  20. Bart Heyman

    Obama is so refreshing...he takes all questions head on and gives clear, concise answers. Because he's different, some folks don't know what to make of his work...but it's obviously well thought out and dedicated.

    February 1, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  21. Lotta Muni

    People need to see that Obam is the same as Bush in mnay respects
    1) He was voted in by a party with a veto proof majority
    2) He ran on a campaign preaching decency as a breath of fresh air from the previous administrations failings (for Bush he was running against Clinton's moral failings, Obama was running against the economic downturn left during the Bush years)
    3) Once in office sought to advance his party's agenda by preaching fear of what had been left behind by the previous administration (for Bush it was terrorism, for Obama it was economic collapse) and used a veto proof majority to acheive this (Bush started a war which was in no way related to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Obama pushed forward government programs and spending in no way related to the banking collapse or drop in housing values)
    4) both continued to blame the previous administration for their ongoing woes and failed to take any kind of ownership or admit how their own administrations failings had contributed to the problem.
    The moral of the story is: The more things change the more they stay the shame

    February 1, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  22. richard

    yes mr. president this is the 4th quarter and if you don't find more cuts in the immediate future . lets just say game over. it came over the cnn ticker saying that you [prez] will have spent more in 1 yr, than bush has spent in 8 yrs. i was in houston tx. and over heard 2 elderly white men talking and they said that the talk is. your terrible as prez he said that you were worst than jimmy carter. as they talked to each other. also each one of these entitlement programs. and defense spending should be cut by a 1/3 . nancy pelosi is right about defense pork. you and nancy p. should sit down and find some more cuts .what you have trimmed is not good enough.

    February 1, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  23. Yolanda

    Obama had the pharmacy lobby to the White House more times in 8 months than Bush in 8 years. I don't want to return to the Bush years but there should be something (someone) out there better than Obama and his political advisors. Obama has not gotten the best people to advise him. He has policitical hacks advising him.

    February 1, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  24. insightful

    For your consideration: The American masses were bombarded day-after-day for quite awhile with exasperating real time healthcare debates and nauseating replays 24/7. We can only take so much of the "sausage-making" process Washington style. So I for one felt rlieved when they said no cameras on C-span during the final wrap of the process. Maybe, just maybe, that was also in the minds of the "no cameras"decision makers. Stop the confusion, stop the public display of the confusing process. And, perhaps with the cessation of thousands of phone calls the "sausage maker" could "git-er-done! !"

    February 1, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  25. Red state gone blue voter

    Who doesn't want a smart president? Oh, right, Republicans. Their last four presidents have had an IQ below body temperature. Anyone smarter and the GOP default paranoia gene kicks into overdrive ... "He must be trying to pull something over on me?" Relax. Enjoy the ride. We voted him in to do things differently. Get used to it.

    February 1, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
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