Your Interview with the President – 2012

Your Interview with the President – 2012


♪♪(music playing)♪♪ The President:
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice
President, Members of Congress, and fellow Americans — Speaker:
Hello, President Obama. Why are we sending billions
of dollars in aid to foreign countries when we can’t get
our own country working? Speaker:
Why do we vote on Tuesday? Speaker:
I was wondering if minimum
wage would go up in 2012? Speaker:
How do plan on getting anything
done in this election year with this Congress? Students:
How do you plan to help
students pay off student loans? ♪♪(music playing)♪♪ Steve Grove:
Hello, everyone, and welcome
to the first ever presidential Google+ hangout live on YouTube. I’m Steve Grove coming to you
from our Google headquarters here in Mountain
View, California. And I’m pleased to welcome
President Obama live from the West Wing of the White House. Mr. President,
welcome to Google+. The President:
Great to talk to you, Steve. Steve Grove:
We’re excited to get started
today, Mr. President. Over a quarter of a million
people visited the White House YouTube channel and submitted
their questions for you. And as you can see,
Mr. President, it’s not just me and you
here in this hangout. We’re joined by five of
those people right here, ready to put you
in the hot seat. Let’s meet them all now. We have first, Jennifer
Weddel in Fort Worth, Texas. Jennifer Weddel:
Hi, Mr. President. The President:
Hey, Jennifer. Jennifer Weddel:
It’s an honor to meet you. I’m from Fort Worth, Texas, and
I have two beautiful girls. Nice to meet you. The President:
You can’t beat daughters. (laughter) Steve Grove:
Next we have Paras Patel, and
he is from Detroit, Michigan. Paras Patel:
Hi, Mr. President. I’m from Michigan, and I went to
college in Detroit and now I’m a first year med student at
the University of Chicago. The President:
Great to talk to you. Hope Hyde Park is
treating you well. Paras Patel:
It’s great. Steve Grove:
We’re also joined by Adam
Clark and his classmates in Fremont, California. Adam Clark:
Hi, Mr. President. I’m a senior from John F.
Kennedy High School in Fremont, California. My teacher, Ms. Santillan and
all my classmates would just like to thank you for giving up
a little bit of your time to let us all be a part of
this Google interview. So thank you. The President:
Great to talk to you. And thanks for
wearing a tie today. (laughter) Steve Grove:
You got to dress up — it’s an
interview with the President. We’re also joined by Christine
Wolf, and she is in Evanston, Illinois, Mr. President. Christine Wolf:
Hello, Mr. President. It’s an honor to meet you. I’m a mother of three children
and I’m a children’s book writer in Evanston, Illinois. The President:
Great to talk to you, Christine. Tell everybody in
Evanston I said hi. Christine Wolf:
I sure will. The President:
Thanks. Steve Grove:
And finally, we have Ramon
Ray and he is in Montclair, New Jersey. Ramon Ray:
Hi, Mr. President. I’m Ramon. I love small businesses. I love technology. I play piano and I also
love doing puppet shows for poor children. Thanks for being here. The President:
Great to talk to you, Ramon. Steve Grove:
All right, Mr. President. Well, some of our participants
here voted for you in the last election, and some
of them did not. But everyone here submitted a
question for you on YouTube. And to kick off our conversation
today we’re going to start with a YouTube question on our
first topic of discussion, the economy. And it comes to us from Anthony
in Greenville, South Carolina. Let’s watch. Anthony:
Mr. President, thank
you for your time. My name is Anthony and
I’m currently residing in Greenville, South Carolina. I’m a student. I’m taking 15 credits in order
to get an accounting degree. I also work a
40-hour-a-week job. There’s one problem —
I barely make ends meet. The question I want to
ask you today is this: Will you promote a living wage
for people like me who are responsible, work, go to school,
and take charge of their lives? Thank you. The President:
Well, first of all, I just want
to commend you for working hard at school and at work. And I think this is
representative of the spirit that’s out there
in this country. Nobody expects anybody to do
anything for them; everybody, I think, is working hard, trying
to make ends meet and trying to get ahead in what’s been a
very difficult economy over the last three years. But we are starting to see
some signs that the economy is picking up. We’ve created 22 million
jobs over the last — or 3 million jobs over
the last 22 months. And we saw the largest boost in
manufacturing jobs that we’ve seen since the ’90s, best
job growth that we’ve seen since 2005. But we’ve still got
a lot more to do. And for young people who are
going to school and about to go into the workplace, a
couple things I have to do. Number one, is I have to
keep this recovery going. That’s why it’s so important
for us to continue to make sure that, for example, we extend
the payroll tax cut so that you don’t have $40 coming out of
your paycheck this year at a time when things are
already tight for you. For students, we’re going to
have to make sure that we continue to build on some of
the steps we’ve taken to make college more affordable. And that includes extending the
tax credits that we’ve passed that are saving some families
up to $10,000 a year, also expanding the
Pell Grant program. That, obviously, is helpful to
young people like yourselves. And then, what we have to do is
to make sure that as businesses grow, as we’re promoting new
industries like manufacturing in this country, that we’re also
making sure that workers have a chance to benefit. And that means — I’m a strong
believer in the minimum wage, but it also means that we are
making sure that people like you who are working hard aren’t
being disadvantaged by the tax code the way it is right now. And that’s part
of the reason why, as we’re reducing the deficit or
taking other steps to balance the budget, that we don’t put
the burden on you as much as we put it on people like
me who can afford it. Steve Grove:
I want to get our
hangout involved here. Let’s go to Jennifer. She also submitted a
question on the economy. Jennifer. Jennifer Weddel:
Hi, Mr. President. My husband has an engineering
degree with over 10 years of experience, and he was laid off
three years ago and has yet to find a permanent
job in his field. My question to you is why does
the government continue to issue and extend H-1B visas when there
are tons of Americans just like my husband with no job? The President:
Well, Jennifer, I don’t know
your husband’s specialty, but I can tell you that there’s
a huge demand around the country for engineers. Now, obviously, there are
different kinds of engineers. So a civil engineer,
for example, right now may not be getting
as much work because we’re not building our infrastructure
as much as we should, which is part of the reason why
in the State of the Union I said let’s put folks to work — not
just construction workers, but also engineers
and architects — rebuilding our schools and our
roads and our bridges and so on. Where you’re seeing a lot
of specialized demand is in engineering that’s related
to the high-tech industries. And now, what industry tells me
is that they don’t have enough highly skilled engineers. If your husband
is in that field, then we should get his resume
and I’ll forward it to some of these companies that are telling
me they can’t find enough engineers in this field. So it’s going to vary,
but as a basic matter, there’s a huge demand
for engineers around the country right now. Jennifer Weddel:
I understand that. But how — I mean, given the
list that you’re getting — I mean, we’re not getting that. I mean, you said in the State of
the Union address for business leaders to ask themselves what
can they do to bring jobs back to America. But why do you think that the
H-1B program is so popular with big corporations? The President:
Jennifer, can I ask you
what kind of engineer your husband is? Jennifer Weddel:
He is a semiconductor engineer. The President:
See, it is interesting to me
— and I meant what I said, if you send me your
husband’s resume, I’d be interested in finding out
exactly what’s happening right there, because the word we’re
getting is that somebody in that kind of high-tech field, that
kind of engineer should be able to find something right away. And the H-1B should be reserved
only for those companies who say they cannot find somebody
in that particular field. So that wouldn’t necessarily
apply if, in fact, there are a lot of highly
skilled American engineers in that position. So I’d be interested —
I will follow up on this, because I’m interested
in finding out — and maybe we can get some
information as to why your husband has been having
trouble getting placed. We want to encourage more
American engineers to be placed, and that’s part of the reason
why it’s so important for us to boost American manufacturing. Jennifer Weddel:
Well, I was going to say
I appreciate your response, Mr. President, and I’ll
have to take you up on that. Thank you. The President:
Thank you. Steve Grove:
Great. Paras Patel from Detroit
also submitted a question on the economy. Paras? Paras Patel:
I did. So, Mr. President, I really
appreciate how you saved the auto industry. I’m from Michigan and
my dad works for GM. So to see that —
that was just great. I think it was the
right thing to do. But what I’m really curious
about now is how do we make sure that the auto industry is
competitive long term and not just for the next
couple of years? Because we face competition from
all these global competitors and I’m just wondering what is our
national strategy to make sure that America is the best place
to build, manufacture, engineer, and sell a car? The President:
Well, the point about Detroit
applies to all kinds of manufacturing industry. And I tried to highlight this
in the State of the Union. I want us to be a country that
is building and selling our products all around the world,
not just building our economy based on debt and
financial transactions. And the auto industry is a good
example of what’s possible. We’ve started a restructuring
where workers and management got together and said how are we
going to make sure that we’ve got the most efficient
operation possible, started designing
better products. And one of the things that the
U.S. auto industry has started to do is to look at what are
going to be the trends of the future. And one of the biggest trends is
making sure that we’re creating fuel-efficient cars. So we doubled fuel efficiency
standards for cars and trucks for the first time in 30 years. And Detroit is responding by
building cars that are getting better fuel efficiency. But now the key is for us to
make sure that we’re catching that next wave of innovation. So one of the reasons that we’ve
made an investment in clean energy, including the batteries,
the high-tech batteries that go into electric cars, is because
our expectation is that that’s going to be one of the places
where there’s going to be a huge surge in demand. And I want to make sure those
advanced batteries are made in the United States and they
go into cars made in the United States. So we’ve got to continually
anticipate what is going to be the demand not just here
in the United States, but also in other countries, at
a time when we expect that oil prices are going to continue
to go up over the long term. Steve Grove:
Let’s go to another YouTube
question, Mr. President. This one is from Linda and
she is in Portland, Oregon. She has been part of the
Occupy protests in Portland. Let’s watch. Linda:
Mr. President, I voted for you. I’m paying my taxes. I’m unemployed five years
now and I need help. I’m 52. What am I going to do? How will I recover from this? Do you have a plan for me? The President:
Well, the most important thing I
can do for folks who are out of work right now is
to grow the economy. And the steps that we laid out
in the State of the Union, making sure that we’re providing
strong incentives for companies to invest here in the United
States instead of building plants overseas, which means
that we change our tax code so that we’re rewarding companies
who are insourcing as opposed to outsourcing — that’s key. Making sure that we’re improving
skills for all Americans by, for example, matching up
community colleges with businesses, and designing
programs that actually lead to a job right here and right now. There are models
out there that work; we’ve got to get more of
those models spread out across the country. Making sure that we’ve got a
American energy strategy that is opening up expansion of
oil and gas resources, but also is focused on clean
energy like solar and wind and biodiesel. And making sure
that we’ve got a — rules of the road that are
working for everybody so that our tax code is fair, everybody
is doing their fair share, that people aren’t
exploiting loopholes, that consumers aren’t
being taken advantage of. That’s the foundation for an
economy that’s going to last into the long term. Obviously, for someone who’s
been laid off and they’re 50 or older, it’s a lot tougher. But one of the folks that I
highlighted at the State of the Union was somebody who, in
their 50s, had retrained, going through this
community college program, and are now in a job that’s
giving them a living wage and the kind of benefits that give
them some sense of security. So it is possible. But we’ve got to create more
of those ladders of opportunity for everybody. Steve Grove:
Let’s bring Ramon into this
conversation, Mr. President. He’s a small business
owner in Montclair. Ramon, let’s hear from you. Ramon Ray:
Thank you, Steven. Again, thank you Mr. President. It’s really a delight
to talk to you today. Mr. President, a few weeks ago,
you took steps to consolidate the various agencies and
departments that were focused on the business sector. I work with a lot of small
businesses, and I’m curious, do you think that
instead of helping — which I’m sure it
will do in part — that this may dilute or diminish
the government’s focus on small businesses, especially if the
SBA is no longer independent, it’s consolidated with
other organizations? Will that diminish the focus
that we, small businesses, have to the federal government? The President:
The answer is no,
Ramon, and here is why. First of all, I elevated the SBA
Administrator to a Cabinet-level position so that they’re
talking directly to me. There’s nobody in between me and
the SBA when they’re advocating on behalf of small businesses. Secondly, the big problem we
have right now when it comes to our various business programs is
it’s really hard to navigate for small businesses. They may have to go to
four different agencies, or five different
agencies, to figure out, where do I get a
loan, how do I export, what kind of assistance and
technical training can I obtain? And our whole goal here is to
set up a one-stop process for a small business. So a business goes on a website;
instead of navigating 15 different agencies and
30 different programs, I want them to be able to go to
one place and be able to answer all their questions. That’s going to be especially
important for small businesses because they can’t afford to
hire a bunch of accountants and lobbyists and lawyers to try to
work through a big bureaucracy. They just want some
simple answers. If they need financing,
how does the program work? What do they do to apply? Who do they talk to? And that’s the kind of
streamline process that we want to set up, not just in
the business sector, but for all our various
government programs. Because right now, I’m a strong
believer that SBA is a huge help to small businesses
all across the country. But we’re also living in a time
when our government has to be more efficient, more lean,
because we’ve got a lot of need and we don’t have as many
resources as we used to have in terms of being able to advocate
on behalf of small businesses. So the leaner it is, the
more efficient it is, the better it’s going to be
for those small businesses. And I’ll still have a SBA
Administrator in my Cabinet who is advocating directly
just for small businesses. Ramon Ray:
Great. And can I just add to
that, Mr. President, that just my two cents
to highlight that, just to make sure the big
businesses, you know, who already have the resources,
that they don’t crowd us out in this — combined. That we small businesses still
have that kind of direct line as you go forward. That’s all I wanted to add. The President:
That’s a priority for us,
because small businesses create most of the new jobs. And I don’t know if you noticed
in the State of the Union, we also talked about the
importance of startups and entrepreneurs. And one of the things that we’re
trying to get Congress to do is to pass legislation — and
there’s some bipartisan support for this — that just makes it
easier for startup companies to obtain financing or to use
R&D that’s already out there. And that’s something that we’re
going to continue to focus on because if we can
get more startups, more entrepreneurs getting
their ideas to market faster, that’s going to help contribute
to overall economic growth and job growth. Ramon Ray:
Thank you. Steve Grove:
Let’s get Christine Wolf
into the conversation here from Evanston. Christine. Christine Wolf:
Mr. President, prior to your
taking office I was never politically active, but since
then it’s been obvious to me that there is no dialogue out
there to help our nation’s children understand the
economic situation that we are faced with. Children see and
hear everything, and they see and hear far
more than we even realize. They’re also exposed
to words and phrases, like “foreclosure” and
“cutting back” and “crisis.” I was raised in a generation
in which discussions about financial matters were
either taboo or the messages were confusing. Oftentimes, wealth
equaled success. And I think we all know in this
day and age that that’s just simply not true. What I’m asking is what you will
do help create a new narrative for the children of our nation
to help them to understand, and look ahead to life
beyond this economic crisis that we’re in. The President:
Well, first of all, obviously
I’ve got two girls at home, so I’m having to have
conversations with them all the time about what’s going
on with the economy, and over the dinner table
I try to explain to them what’s happened. I think that one of the most
important things I can do as President is just to remind
this generation that previous generations have
had tougher times — whether it’s my grandparents going through
the Great Depression, or some of the tough recessions
that we went through in the ’80s. We’ve always come out on top,
as long as we work together to solve some of these problems. And I think it’s very important
for all of us to remember that whatever the challenges
that are out there, we can work through this. We still have the best
universities on Earth; we still have the best
entrepreneurial spirit; some of the best
businesspeople on Earth; the best workers on Earth,
the most productive. And so we’re going to do fine
if we make some good decisions. And what I’m trying to do for
kids and everybody else is to remain hopeful about
where we’re going. This economy went through a real
body blow, but it’s improved. Now, more personally, one of the
things that we want to do is to actually increase financial
literacy among kids so that they have a better sense of
making good choices. And actually we have a whole
panel that’s working with the Department of Education and
school districts so that some of the concepts that we’re talking
about don’t seem so foreign. Because part of what’s important
is empowering our kids to be smart consumers of
financial information, so that when they’re going out
and taking a student loan, they have a sense — we call
it “know before you owe.” If they’re going out there
to buy their first home, we want them to be well equipped
to make good decisions. And not just judge themselves
on, how much am I purchasing, but judging themselves on, am I
making good decisions that will empower me so that I don’t
get into a debt trap, so that I’m not just being
judged by how much I’m consuming, but rather how much
I’m producing and how much I’m contributing to the
overall society? So that’s a conversation
that, on the one hand, we can have as a country
as a whole, but each of us, as parents, are also going to
have to make sure that we’re trying to instill those kinds of
old-fashioned American values into our kids. Thanks. Steve Grove:
Mr. President, we’re going to
move on to the topic of foreign policy next. And to get us started, we’re
going to go to a YouTube question from Boston. Let’s take a look. Robert:
My name is Robert
Hairwald [phonetic]. I’m a homeless veteran,
downtown Boston. And my question
for Mr. Obama is: Why are we sending money to
places like Pakistan and other places that are known to
give money to terrorism? And I don’t understand that. Why are we sending money to all
that when we got guys out here, hundreds are homeless? Especially in D.C. That’s, like, the biggest
city with the most homeless, the capital. I’m just wondering why we’re
sending money over there. The President:
Well, first of all, my goal is
to have no homeless veterans. And part of what I
want to see happen — part of the reason why we’ve
increased our VA budget every year ever since I
came into office — one of our key goals is
eliminate veterans homelessness. And the other thing is making
sure that when our guys come back and our gals come back,
that they’re getting the kind of support and the training that
they need to find a job in this economy. They’re handling million-dollar
pieces of equipment and leading their colleagues into incredibly
dangerous situations; they can make a huge
contribution in terms of rebuilding America. And we’ve got to make sure
that we’re putting in place programs for them. With respect to the general
question of foreign aid — because even in your teaser
there was a young woman who asked about that — it’s
important for folks to understand, we only spend about
1% of our budget on foreign aid. But it pays off
in a lot of ways, because if we are contributing
to an improving economy in a country, if we’re giving
people more opportunity, if we’re preventing a famine
that results in huge numbers of refugees, that potentially saves
us from having to deal with some military crisis somewhere down
the road that could be even more expensive. So aside from it being
the right thing to do, as a very wealthy country, us
trying to help develop other countries, it’s also important
to make sure that people understand this is part of our
overall security strategy. I do agree that a country like
Pakistan is one where our relations have gotten more
strained because there are a lot of extremists inside
that country and, either for lack of
capacity or political will, they haven’t taken them all on. In some cases, they’ve been
very cooperative with us; in other cases, not
as much as we want. So we’re always trying to
find the right balance, making sure that if we’re
providing them with aid, they’re also providing us with
assistance in terms of making our people safer. And there are times where
they disappoint us in terms of their performance. But we’re going to keep on
trying to engage as many countries as possible, mainly
because it’s good for our national security. Steve Grove:
Let’s hear from
hangout for a second. I’d be curious if anyone
here in the hangout — raise your hand if you think we
still spend too much money on foreign aid. Anybody? Jennifer, let’s hear from you. What did you think of the
President’s response to Robert’s question? Jennifer Weddel:
I mean, I understand what
you’re trying to do. And I agree — I don’t
think we should not help. But I guess when you see the
number of people who don’t have jobs, and you have a
college-educated husband, I mean, how are you supposed to
tell your children — I just — when you see the hurting
and you see the homeless, it’s just I guess hard for
Americans in the middle class to grasp why we do give
as much as we do. The President:
Yes. I understand sort of the
source of frustration. But I think it’s important
to remember, Jennifer, like I said — we spend 1
percent of our total budget on foreign aid. Some folks think
it’s like 25 percent. I mean, it’s a
very small portion. And most of the foreign aid we
provide is to countries that are also helping us with
our national security. And so oftentimes, when we’re
providing that aid for a country, we may be saving a
larger amount in terms of what we would have to deal
with if they weren’t cooperating with us. So that’s part of the reason why
I always emphasize our defense budget and our foreign aid
budget should be seen as an overall package, an overall
strategy to keep America safe. Because what we don’t want to
do is have a situation where certain countries
completely collapse, and then the next
thing you know, we’re having to send our guys in
there at huge potential risk and huge cost to taxpayers instead. But it also means when we’re
providing aid that these countries need to
help themselves. And instead of just
giving charity, one of the things we’re trying
to do is to help them develop so hopefully at some point they
become consumers of our goods and services, and we can sell
stuff into those countries, and it helps grow the overall
pie and helps create a situation where American businesses
are doing better as well. Steve Grove:
Let’s go back to
YouTube, Mr. President, on an issue that’s been on
the front page of The New York Times today. The question comes from
Evan in Brooklyn, New York. Let’s watch. Evan:
Mr. President, since
you took office, you’ve ordered more drone
attacks in your first year than your predecessor did
in his entire term. These drone attacks cause a
lot of civilian casualties. I’m curious to know how you feel
they help the nation and whether you think they’re worth it. The President:
Steve, I can’t
hear you right now. Steve Grove:
Oh, I’m sorry. The President:
There you go. Steve Grove:
I wanted to explain the
reference to The New York Times, just because the story today
focused on the use of drones in Iraq, actually. The President:
Well, that story I think
was a little overwritten. The truth of the matter is we’re
not engaging in a bunch of drone attacks inside of Iraq. There’s some surveillance to
make sure that our embassy compound is protected. As a general proposition,
the question that was posed, I want to make sure that people
understand actually drones have not caused a huge number
of civilian casualties. For the most part, they have
been very precise precision strikes against al Qaeda
and their affiliates. And we are very careful in
terms of how it’s been applied. So I think that there’s this
perception somehow that we’re just sending in a whole
bunch of strikes willy-nilly. This is a targeted, focused
effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists who
are trying to go in and harm Americans, hit American
facilities, American bases, and so on. It is important for everybody to
understand that this thing is kept on a very tight leash. It’s not a bunch of folks
in a room somewhere just making decisions. And it is also part and parcel
of our overall authority when it comes to battling al Qaeda. It is not something that’s
being used beyond that. Steve Grove:
Got it. Paras Patel:
Mr. President, do you think that
possibly these drone strikes, do they send the message that
the U.S. is interfering in other countries’ affairs? Because I feel like
regardless of how much we do, people in other countries might
perceive that we’re interfering, and that might not
be good for us. Is there a way that
we’re combating that? The President:
Well, I think that we have to be
judicious in how we use drones. But understand that probably
our ability to respect the sovereignty of other countries
and to limit our incursions into somebody else’s territory is
enhanced by the fact that we are able to pinpoint-strike an al
Qaeda operative in a place where the capacities of that military
in that country may not be able to get them. So obviously a lot of these
strikes have been in the FATA, and going after al Qaeda
suspects who are up in very tough terrain along the
border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. For us to be able to get them
in another way would involve probably a lot more intrusive
military actions than the one that we’re already engaging in. That doesn’t mean that we
shouldn’t be careful about how we proceed on this. And obviously I’m looking
forward to a time where al Qaeda is no longer an operative
network and we can refocus a lot of our assets and
attention on other issues. But this is something that we’re
still having to deal with. There are still active plots
that are directed against the United States. And I think we are
on the offense now; al Qaeda has been
really weakened. But we’ve still got a
little more work to do, and we’ve got to make sure that
we’re using all our capacities in order to deal with it. Steve Grove:
Mr. President, I want to change
gears for a second and move on to the topic of education. And I think there’s no better
place to start this conversation than with Adam and his
classmates out in Fremont. Adam, let’s hear it from you. Adam Clark:
Hi, Mr. President. Once again, this is an
honor to be a part of this, so thank you for
taking time out. My question is: At a time when
Americans are struggling to pay for daily necessities, you’ve
continued to push higher education for all Americans. But what is your plan to help
students pay off all their student loans? The President:
Well, first of all, when I
say “a college education,” I think what people should
be clear about is I’m really talking about higher education
— education beyond high school. It doesn’t mean that
everybody needs a four-year college education. It may be that somebody has
incredible aptitude with computer graphics, and they
want to be a computer designer, and they may just need a couple
of years at a community college to get those skills before
they’re immediately on the job. It may be somebody has
mechanical aptitude, and they want to become
a skilled toolmaker, and they can get a training
program in a year or two that allows them to work with
high-tech equipment in a factory. But the point is that it’s very
hard for somebody who just has a high school education to be able
to get a well-paying job that allows you to support a family. And I want to encourage
everybody to have access to that higher education, whether it’s
at a community college or a four-year college or beyond. Now, what we’ve tried to do is
to make college more affordable without putting more of
a burden on taxpayers. One of the biggest things we did
last year was to sign into law a bill that took away $60 billion
in subsidies that were going to banks, because they were
the middleman on the student loan program. We said, let’s give the
loans directly to students; we can take that — those
billions of dollars and we can provide more assistance
to students directly. And that’s helped
a lot of students. We’ve also got, coming
up, a concern of mine — if Congress doesn’t act, then
the interest rates on student loans are going to
go up this summer. And so I’ve urged Congress at
the State of the Union to do something about that right away,
as well as extend existing tax credits that help families. But the final thing that I’ve
been trying to encourage is for colleges and universities to
think more about how to make higher education affordable. Some of this is not the faults
of colleges and universities. When it comes to state
college and universities, they’ve been getting less
support from the states, and so I urged state
legislatures to do their job and prioritize higher education
more in their budgets. But every college and university
can also think about are there additional ways that
they can hold down costs. And what we’re going to start
doing is incentivizing, providing additional dollars to
those schools that have come up with creative ways
to keep costs down. Some schools, for example, are
saying you can get a degree in three years. Well, that saves you’re a
year’s worth of tuition, but you get the same skills
base that allows you to go out there and work. There may be better
ways to use technology. I mean, you look at what
we’re doing today — this is something where
potentially a lot of folks can take classes without ever
actually being in a classroom and having all the
cost of room and board. So there may be ways
that we can reduce costs. I want to encourage those. But I want all of you
guys to understand, you can’t stop at high school. First of all, you’ve got to
graduate and then you guys are going to have to do some more
stuff because we’re going to need you. Steve Grove:
Adam, what did you think of — Adam Clark:
Well, I would just like to know
what advice would you give to a person like me that does come
from a middle-class family and we would struggle to make ends
meet and possibly not being to find a job after receiving
this higher education — what advice would you have as
far as wanting to still pursue a higher education with the fear
of not being able to pay off those student loans? The President:
Well, first of all, you’re going
to be able to afford college. You will probably
take on some debt. Michelle and I took on debt
when we graduated from college and law school. We were able to pay it off. It is important, though — and
I wish that it wasn’t the case where you could just go to
college and have fun for four years, and then after that kind
of make up your mind what you want to do. I think young people
probably have a little more responsibility now to think
ahead to make sure that when you make that investment it’s
actually in pursuing a career where you can have some
confidence that you’re going to be able to find a
job down the road. And I think that sometimes
young people going to school, and it’s four years
of having fun, and then sort of their senior
year that start thinking, oh, I better start thinking about
what I’m going to do for the rest of my life. College is a big enough
investment now where you’ve got to kind of think ahead, and your
counselors and other adults can potentially help you to identify
what are going to be some of the growth areas of the future so
that you make a good investment. Adam Clark:
Mr. President, I agree with you. I’m sure there are some kinds
that do go to school three years, and the fourth year
they’re like, oh my goodness, what am I going to do? But really, I don’t believe
that’s a lot of kids. A lot of high school kids,
college kids have seen their parents get laid
off and no money. And because of the
downturn of the economy, a lot of kids — high school
kids, college kids, or even, mainly, high school kids
like we’re talking today — they worry about even entering
college because they don’t want to have that debt. They don’t — they see their
father not even able to have a job. I mean, I can understand
that valid fear. I’m sure, though, there are kids
that do go to school and they kind of goof off, and then
they’re like, oh, my goodness, what am I going to do? But for the most part, I believe
that our kids are just seeing what is happening with the
economy and it’s affecting them. The President:
Well, Jennifer, you’re
absolutely right that obviously the last three years
has been tough, especially for young people
getting out of college and starting their careers. On the other hand, here’s what’s
really important to know — and we as parents have to
communicate this to our kids — the unemployment rate for folks
who only have a high school diploma is multiple times higher
than for folks who’ve got a college degree. So even in this
economic downturn, even as tough as
things have been, the odds that you
are going to do much, much better over your
lifetime, over your career, in terms of lifetime earnings,
being able to find a job, not being at as high a
risk of unemployment, is much better if you’ve gotten
a higher education degree. So you’re right that
when times are tough, obviously people are a lot more
concerned about taking on debt. And I think it’s good that a lot
of young people are trying to stay focused and
saying, all right, before I make this investment,
what is it that I’m going to get out of it. But it’s important to remember
that that investment is still the best thing that
young people can do — although not everybody
needs a four-year degree. And one of the things we’ve got
to do more of is to try to link up high school students
who may have, as I said, the capacity to become a really
skilled worker but they don’t necessarily need a
B.A. in order to do it, and they may end up saving money
going and getting a two-year degree as opposed to
a four-year degree. So it’s going to vary by people. Steve Grove:
Mr. President, I want to
take some time — sorry, short follow — I want to make
sure we have some time for a few more Internet questions. But a quick follow? Ramon Ray:
Yes, I was just going to
share with you my story, Mr. President. Personally, just I think that
the thing is that parents can also plan far more in advance. I know in my case my son just
got a full scholarship to a college on the East Coast,
but we worked hard for that. We planned, we saved
years in advance; we tried to encourage him to
be smart enough to get that academic scholarship. We’re also middle class. I don’t have a lot of money. However, we’ve worked hard as
a family to help nurture that soil, as it were, so when
he’s 17, when he graduates, thankfully, he’s in play
now that we don’t have to have any debt. So everybody can’t do that, but
I just wanted to share that personal story of advanced
preparation for families as well, if that helps someone. The President:
Well, the point is it’s still
a good investment, Jennifer, but you’re absolutely
right that — any time that we go through the
kind of economic crisis we went through in 2008-2009, that’s
going to affect the psyches of a lot of young people. And that’s why we have to make
sure that they’re thinking not just what’s happening
over the next year or two, but as the economy
grows stronger, reminding them that when those
jobs come back — for example, when I talked to a group of CEOs
who are bringing manufacturing jobs back here to
the United States — I want all those young people
to be ready and able to start hiring — or getting
hired right away, because they’ve got the skill
sets that are going to be needed for them to be able to succeed. Steve Grove:
Mr. President, I want to make
sure we make some time for questions that you actually
didn’t address in your State of the Union speech but that a
lot of the Internet community rallied around. The first one is on the topic
of the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. A lot of Internet companies,
including Google, have spoken out against this,
but a lot of activity on YouTube on this question. And let’s watch this video
from Benjamin Yager [phonetic], in Jacksonville, Florida. Benjamin:
Hello, Mr. President. My name is Benjamin Yager. In the past few weeks, we’ve
seen some bills come up regarding Internet piracy,
most notably SOPA and PIPA. My question for you is, how do
you intend to combat Internet piracy while at the same time
maintaining the flow of free speech on the Internet? And where do you draw the line
between legitimate attempts to combat Internet piracy and
putting too much censorship on the Internet? The President:
Well, I think Benjamin
framed the question right. And one of the things that we’re
doing is using the laws we have to enforce and make sure
that intellectual property is protected. So we just had — the Justice
Department just announced one of the biggest indictments, in
cooperation with a range of other countries, around Internet
piracy internationally. But I think that it’s going to
be possible for us to make sure that we’re protecting
intellectual property that creates a lot of jobs
in this country — it’s one of the United
States’ biggest exports, is all our
knowledge-based products — but also do it in a way
where it’s not affecting the fundamental integrity of
the Internet as an open, transparent system. And what I’ve suggested is that
both sides — the content side, the server side — they need to
come together and work with us to create a system in which
we’ve got strong protections in place, but the basic
architecture that’s made the Internet so powerful and such
a open system ends up being preserved, and I
think we can do that. Steve Grove:
Mr. President, a lot of people
are probably wondering what was the number-one-voted question of
all the 135,000 or so questions that were submitted
— what was number one? And it was actually
a text question — I’m going to read it to you now. It comes from Michael
Mozart in Connecticut, and he writes: “Why are you
personally supporting the extradition of British citizen
Richard O’Dwyer for solely linking to
copyright-infringing works, using an extradition treaty
designed to combat terrorism and bring terrorists to
judgment in the U.S.?” And for those of you who don’t
know who Richard O’Dwyer is, he’s a British student. The Justice Department is
apparently seeking to extradite him to the U.S. for
copyright infringement. The President:
First of all, Steve, I’m
not personally doing anything because — Steve Grove:
I’m reading exactly
what he wrote. The President:
No, but I want to make
sure everybody understands, one of the ways our system works
is that the President doesn’t get involved with
prosecution decisions or extradition decisions. And this has been a decision
by the Justice Department. What I can say broadly is that
we want to make sure that intellectual property
is protected. We want to make sure that the
creative works of people in this country aren’t expropriated, but
we want to do it in a way that’s consistent with
Internet freedom. And we’re just going to
keep on working on it. When SOPA came up on the Hill,
we expressed some concerns about the way that the legislation
had been written, told folks let’s go back to the
table and let’s try to figure something out that
works for everybody. Steve Grove:
Mr. President, our final YouTube
question today comes from a YouTube celebrity, actually, and
I think he’s someone that you’re going to recognize. Let’s take a look. Iman Crosson:
Dear Mr. President, it’s me,
your premier President Barack Obama impressionist of the
United States of America. And let me be clear: Do
you believe that comedy, such as my videos,
or SNL, et cetera, can influence the
outcome of an election? Thank you. God bless you. I’m not actually you. However, I do endorse
this question. (phone rings) Oh, I got to get that. See you later. (laughter) The President:
Well, first of all, the only
problem with that guy is he doesn’t have any gray hair. (laughter) And so he needs to update
his act a little bit. But one of the great
things — it’s interesting, I was with some ambassadors from
some other countries today. We host a reception here
at the White House for all the ambassadors. And they remarked that one of
the things that makes America special is, in most countries
you don’t have the sort of comedy and satire about people
in power that we do here. And so I don’t know if any of
this stuff affects an election, but I know that it makes our
country stronger that you can make fun of the
President or anybody, and everybody can get a laugh. And that also makes sure
to remind me that I work for you guys. And that’s part also of the
kinds of interactions that we’re having today. That makes our country stronger. It gives me ideas. It allows me to come away
and say, you know what, let’s follow up on this or
let’s follow up on that issue, whether it’s coming from
a high school class, or whether it’s coming
from the spouse of somebody who’s unemployed. It really, I think, speaks to
the strength of our democracy. And that kind of participation
is something that I want to just keep on encouraging. Steve Grove:
We’re almost out of
time, Mr. President. Jennifer Weddel:
Mr. President — Steve Grove:
Actually, Jennifer, we’re
almost out of time. I know the President’s
time is precious. I do want to make sure that
everyone gets a chance, though, to ask a quick personal
question before we leave. And, Jennifer, let’s
start with you. Jennifer Weddel:
Okay, you just spoke of laughs. I was wondering if you could
stand up and give us a little jig real quick. The President:
Oh, no dancing. (laughter) I sing once in a
while, but Michelle — Jennifer Weddel:
Oh, could you sing for us? The President:
— Michelle always
makes fun of my dancing. Jennifer Weddel:
Okay, well, then sing for us. The President:
And she teases me relentlessly
because she’s sure she’s the superior dancer. So what can I do? But in some future Google+,
I may sing another tune. Jennifer Weddel:
Thank you. Steve Grove:
Let’s go to Paras. Paras Patel:
So, Mr. President, in 10 years
when I finish all of my medical school residency
training and everything, can I be your doctor? Would that be cool? (laughter) The President:
Well, I tell you what,
I’ve got a terrific doctor. He’s in the military, though, so
you’re going to have to sign up to serve to be the
President’s doctor. But presumably, by that time,
I won’t be President anymore. So I’ll see. If we’re living
in the same city, you look like you might
know what you’re doing. Steve Grove:
Okay. (laughter) Ramon? Ramon Ray:
Hey, Mr. President. Before I get to my question,
if you’re ever looking for a technology expert
in small business, please feel free to ask for me. I’d love to stop by the
White House and help you. My question, Mr. President —
if you ever want Doritos or Snickers or Coke late at
night, you can’t walk outside and get it. How do you feel about that, that
you can’t just walk out the White House door on your own? How do you feel? The President:
You know, it’s actually
the toughest thing about being President. Look, this is the greatest
job on Earth and it’s such an honor to serve. But it is true, sometimes you
get a little stir crazy because, if I decide I just want
to go to the corner store, I’ve got to alert
Secret Service, and the ambulance
has to get in place, and if we’re crossing a bridge
suddenly there’s got to be some boats in the water, and — (laughter) — so at a certain point,
you just say, you know what, forget it. So one of the things I look
forward to after I’ve had this extraordinary honor of serving
is just going out and taking a walk, or waking up on Saturday
morning, not shaving, and just going to the local
Starbucks and not having to worry about it. Ramon Ray:
Thank you. Steve Grove:
Adam, let’s hear
from you in Fremont. Adam Clark:
So my school, Mr. President, is
the smallest school in our area, and we’re often forgotten
about and talked down upon — upon the public eye. What would you say about
possibly coming to visit my school, playing a little
bit of tennis with me? The President:
Well, I tell you what, I know
you can beat me at tennis. So if you wanted to just
humiliate me on the court, I’d give you the
opportunity if I’m in town. But you may be the
smallest school. I don’t know how many other
schools have the President talking to their
student body, though. So we — I think you’ve got
a little claim to fame now. You can go ahead and pump
your chest out there after we sign off. (laughter) Adam Clark:
All right; thank
you, Mr. President. The President:
You bet. Steve Grove:
Christine, let’s hear from you. Christine Wolf:
Mr. President, I hear that
you and the First Lady, just like my husband and I, are
celebrating your 20th wedding anniversary sometime — The President:
This year. Christine Wolf:
This year? Congratulations. The President:
Thank you. Christine Wolf:
I am just wondering if you can
talk about what you’re doing to celebrate, or what
you intend to do, or if you’ve already — have you
already had the anniversary? The President:
No. You know, the anniversary — our
anniversary is on October 3. Sadly, it’s a month
before the election. (laughter) So I don’t know how romantic
a weekend we’re actually going to get. We may have to defer the
full celebration until later in November. Christine Wolf:
That’s understandable. The President:
But I tell you what,
without being corny — I’m sure your husband
feels the same way — the fact that you guys put up
with us for 20 years is pretty remarkable and I’m
grateful for it every day. Christine Wolf:
I hope my husband is
watching right now. (laughter) Mr. President, if it’s
all right with you, may I just introduce you to my
children who are sitting just off camera? The President:
Yes, let me see them. Christine Wolf:
Come on over, guys, just put
your faces right over here. Quickly, quickly. Just come on over. The President:
Hey guys! (laughter) Hey! Christine Wolf:
Say hi. The President:
How’s it going? Christine Wolf:
What do you say? The President:
You doing all right? Christine Wolf:
I think they’re speechless. The President:
Make sure to study hard
in school and do what your mom tells you. (laughter) Christine Wolf:
Study hard in school and do what
I tell you, is what he said. (laughter) Thank you. The President:
You bet. Steve Grove:
All right, Mr. President. We want to thank you again,
on behalf of the quarter of a million people on YouTube
and all of us here in the hangout, of course. We really, really appreciate you
taking the time for us and we look forward to seeing you
again on Google+ real soon. The President:
Steve, this was great. I really enjoyed it. Thanks everybody. Speakers:
Thank you. The President:
Jennifer, remember to
send me that information. Jennifer Weddel:
I sure will. The President:
Okay. Jennifer Weddel:
Thank you — I wrote a book! The President:
Thanks. Send me a copy. Jennifer Weddel:
Okay! The President:
See you guys. Speakers:
Bye.

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