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Barack Obama to Reddit users: Ask me anything
In Barack Obama's latest effort to leverage the Internet and social media to connect with voters — remember last year's Twitter town hall? -- the president took about an hour out of his day today to answer questions on Reddit, the self-described “front page of the Internet.”
He verified his identity with a photo of himself, collar unbuttoned, sitting at his MacBook, and answered nine questions that touched on Internet freedom, White House beer, and the role of money in politics.
“I want to thank everybody at reddit for participating,” Obama said in his final post. “This is an example of how technology and the Internet can empower the sorts of conversations that strengthen our democracy over the long run.”
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Here are the highlights, grammatical mistakes and all, and the best questions Obama chose not to answer.
Q: Despite graduating from a top school, I find myself unemployed with a large student loan debt burden. … Your 2008 campaign was successful in large part due to the efforts of younger demographics. We worked for you, we campaigned for you, and we turned out in record numbers to vote for you. What can I say to encourage those in similar situations as I am to show up again in November?
A: “The other party has two ideas for growth — more tax cuts for the wealthy (paid for by raising tax burdens on the middle class and gutting investments like education) and getting rid of regulations we've put in place to control the excesses on wall street and help consumers. These ideas have been tried, they didn't work, and will make the economy worse.
“I want to keep promoting advanced manufacturing that will bring jobs back to America, promote All-American energy sources (including wind and solar), keep investing in education and make college more affordable, rebuild our infrastructure, invest in science, and reduce our deficit in a balanced way with prudent spending cuts and higher taxes on folks making more than $250,000/year.
“I don't promise that this will solve all our immediate economic challenges, but my plans will lay the foundation for long term growth for your generation, and for generations to follow. So don't be discouraged”.
Q: What are you going to do to end the corrupting influence of money in politics?
A: “We are seeing something new in the no-holds barred flow of seven and eight figure checks, most undisclosed, into super-PACs; they fundamentally threaten to overwhelm the political process over the long run and drown out the voices of ordinary citizens. We need to start with passing the Disclose Act that is already written and been sponsored in Congress - to at least force disclosure of who is giving to who.“
Q: What was the most difficult decision that you had to make during this term?
A: “The decision to surge our forces in afghanistan. … The decision did help us blunt the Taliban's momentum, and is allowing us to transition to afghan lead — so we will have recovered that surge at the end of this month, and will end the war at the end of 2014. But knowing of the heroes that have fallen is something you never forget.”
Q: Are you considering increasing funds to the space program?
A: “The curiosity probe on Mars is a reminder of what remains to be discovered. The key is to make sure that we invest in cutting edge research that can take us to the next level — so even as we continue work with the International Space Station, we are focused on a potential mission to an asteroid as a prelude to a manned Mars flight.”
Here are some of the best from the many questions left unanswered, not including the plethora of predictable inquiries about legalizing marijuana.
Q: What issues, if any, do you agree with Mitt Romney on that are not commonly endorsed by the majority of the Democratic Party?
Q: If you had to select one non-politician to be the next president, who would be your pick?
Q: If you could take back one decision you have made in office, what would it be?
Q: If you had the ability to automatically enact or repeal only one law without congressional approval, what would you choose and why?
Read the full transcript.