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. Sheryl

    I believe Obama is doing a great job as well, I am so extremely tiard of these people that believe that all Obama had to do was snap his finger and everything would be fixed. How stupid can you be. IT TOO EIGHT YEARS PEOPLE, GIVE THE MAN TIME. Geese. He has attempted to do more this year than Bush the entire time he was in office, if it wasn't for the Republicans trying to prove they still have power a lot more he could be accomplishing a lot more.

    February 1, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  2. duckunder

    Why do you repubs think the people are so ready to vote Obama out? I haven't heard one GOPer say they would balance the budget and history proves they won't. If Bush would have included the cost of the Iraq war in his budget, would you GOPers been so inflamed. Oh, Iraqui oil was going to pay for that, right. You have the nerve to call Obama a liar.

    February 1, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  3. Mike, Albany

    For everyone whining about Obama spending (especially compared to Bush), let me just point out that Bush should have levied heavy taxes. Take a look back at European history: Whenever a king wanted to wage war, he had to raise the money to do so by taxing his subjects. Never before has a leader waged two wars AND cut taxes. Is it any wonder that Bush let a surplus devolve into a serious deficit?

    February 1, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  4. Disclosure Now

    There wasn't any ET disclosure questions!

    February 1, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  5. Ronda


    I agree whole heartedly with all of your comments. Very well said.

    February 1, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  6. RufusVonDufus

    Certainly Obama has misspoke again about his transparency. His is one of the least transparent administrations in recent history no matter what he says. If his lips are moving...well, you know!

    February 1, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  7. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    I sure both sides will love bashing each other over this, but the truth is there is no difference if you vote Democrat or Republican Liberal or Conservative. We will get the same we have always received from big brother, the people who can attract the billions required to be elected are not getting that money from the people. Both of these parties are bought and paid for by the Special interest groups, PACs, Unions, Wall Street, banking, global Corporations are all contributing billions to re-election funds that undermine the people's representation
    I say in 2010 ask who is funding your representative? Look to see where the money is coming from? If the money comes from outside your district then who do you think they will represent if they are elected or re-elected? We need to bring these professional politicians back into line.
    Think if they are in office then vote them out no matter what party they belong to, and if given a third party choice vote third party.

    February 1, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  8. Who said the Mayans were wrong?

    These must be the rightwing nutcases on here that Reagan let out of the nuthouses to lower taxes as he raised taxes and tripled the debt.Dont believe me ?Look it up.

    February 1, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  9. Mountain Dude

    Republicans filibustered and a couple of Democrats got greedy and now we get NOTHING. I don’t know who is more worthless but right now the Republicans rate as people I hate the most followed closely by greedy Democrats that ruin reform for everyone. I’m so disenfranchised I think we should run them all out of town. I voted for hope and change and I received that in the President only. The rest of the Democrats seem reluctant to get with the program.

    February 1, 2010 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  10. Joe in NJ

    "Doraine Gordon February 1st, 2010 4:08 pm ET

    I'm sick of people complaining about not knowing everything that is going on in Washington. If you are so afraid you might miss out on something then run for office and get in the middle of it."

    The problem is that the people who are already in the middle of it are the ones that don't have a clue as to what is going on. As far as Obama going on YouTube, not everyone has access to a computer and the internet, especially the underprivileged and the elderly.

    February 1, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  11. Slick

    Why does everyone say the last 8 years were so bad economically?

    Unemployment averaged five percent for much of those years and that followed a recession in 2001 (.dom bubble) and 9/11.

    The entire, "worst 8 years ever" is absolutely bogus.

    February 1, 2010 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  12. Disclosure Now

    There wasn't any ET disclosure questions!!

    February 1, 2010 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  13. Gonzo

    Bush got 8 years which put the U.S. at record deficits, unfunded congressional mandates, the Iraq war he lied about to get us there, the economy near a depression, and unregulated corp businesses.

    OBAMA deserves at least 4 years to see if he can begin fixing this mess. For independents who voted for him and are now wavering, you really didn't want him to succeed did you? How can anyone expect anything in congress to change in lightning speed? Give the man a chance.

    February 1, 2010 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  14. gary davis harbor oregon

    I read richard the dorks statment about Mr Obama spending more than G Bush did in 8 years . woops you forgot to count the lie war . and it will take alot more money to get us out of the Bush Cheney Rove debacle you dip stick . like your names says richard cranium LOL
    get the facts before you spout your purist republ;ican crap oh and have a nice day .its being brought too you by the democrats with ideas and not the party of NO LOL 🙂

    February 1, 2010 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  15. Looking for a leader in america?

    A REAL leader, democrat or republican, gives the people what they need not what they want. A REAL leader knows what is right for the nation even when not everyone agrees with him. Its about time for this president to do what is RIGHT for the people and give them what they need, not what they want. And that is not by letting people do what they please, or what is wrong, or giving them "freedoms" that make this world worse!!!!

    February 1, 2010 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  16. obama the liar

    No secrets, no surprises only more LIES from the supreme Liar-in-Chief.

    February 1, 2010 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  17. joseph, Port Moresby

    Love the President. He gives you the chance to talk to him. You have a problem you can be sure he will answer your question. By the way also be prepared to listen and analyse the answers. I think he makes more sense. Kudo to him. God bless President Obama. And God Bless the USA. And God Bless the World.
    PEACE Fellows.

    Port Moresby

    February 1, 2010 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  18. Tom

    How can Obama say that the government loan program reached 4 million people when it is a reported fact that only 66,000 loans have been modified? Wow, this guy is unbeleivable, one lie after another, and he wonders why he is losing support by the thousands daily.

    February 1, 2010 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Lacrosse Mom,
    What are you smoking? I would like some please. Obama is a liar. Everything out of his mouth is a lie. He was so angry during the State of the Union speech, I thought his head was going to explode. He just can't handle that he doesn't have the adulation that he once had. I have said it once and I will say it again, Bush was not perfect. That doesn't give this president the right to do what ever he wants. He is a radical and wants to turn this country into something else entirely different than what it was created to be.

    February 1, 2010 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  20. Willy Brown

    Ok when can we recall the election?

    February 1, 2010 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  21. Pragmatic

    a reply to "slick"

    The economic growth of the Bush era was largely an illusion. Poverty worsened during most of the boom years and middle-class pay stagnated, as most gains flowed to the top.

    In a recent update of their groundbreaking series on income trends, the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez found that from 2002 to 2007, the top 1 percent of households — those making more than $400,000 a year — received two-thirds of the nation’s total income gains, their largest share of the spoils since the 1920s

    Guess you must be in the top 1 percent ... where everything is rosy and the republicans cut your taxes ...

    February 1, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  22. nanbar

    When does this all stop? He answers the questions put in front of him. In the meeting on Friday with the Republicans there was no teleprompter (so move on people). The Republicans have no incentive to work with the President and could care less about what the American people need. How do you explain they voted against a bill they co-sponsored on a Budget Commission and they voted against "pay as you go". How can that be fiscally conservative?

    As far as blaming Bush. It is a statement of fact about 2 wars, prescription loop-hole and tax cuts for the wealthy-all unfunded + the implosion of the financial markets (no or ineffective regulations) that brought this country to its knees. It is not blame to state a fact. The issues he inherited are a reality. If you start in a hole, it takes some time to dig your way out.

    How come you guys are not willing to give him any credit for the stock market growth?

    There are huge issues in this country and they must be addressed with some new thinking. Stop whining and work to solve the problems we all helped create.

    February 1, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  23. Sgt. USMC

    I admire the fact that President Obama does not let the Bush regime get off that easily. It needs to be noted on a constant basis what these low lives did to our military, economy and our image. Also, with all of the criticism being thrown out there, I have to point out that we have come a long way from a year ago. President Obama was out there everyday, putting his best face forward to help the people gain confidence in our government. Even with the GOP constantly attacking him, he did a great job of bringing America back from the brink. He tackled so many issues and you can't win all of them but he tried and I am glad we have 3 more years to go, because he will get a lot done. I know he will get re-elected in 2012, 4 years later we will honor this man for the great work he will do.

    February 1, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  24. Mar

    What can't you just be civil? Why do you have to call the president names? Are you 4th graders? Just GROW UP please and have useful conversation!!!

    February 1, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  25. jsmith

    Wow they are working on the November election, they are blaming Bush ( of course that never stops ), and if the Republicans disagree
    they are saying they are doing it because of the elections coming up, Obama is playing nice to the camera to convince everyone how hard hes trying to work with these big bad Republicans, even though all last year they really didnt care what they thought.. Really soon you will see multi million dollar commercials to smear anyone that doesnt agree with them. Was there ever a time Obama stopped campaiging ??? I missed it.

    February 1, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
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