During an hour-long, town-hall-style meeting hosted by LinkedIn, the career-oriented social networking site president Obama answered questions on health care, Social Security, job-training programs, taxes and business regulations.
“No part of the country better represents America’s driving spirit than Silicon Valley, with its entrepreneurship, dynamism, blood, sweat and tears,” Obama at the newly refurbished Computer History Museum.
Looking out over the enthusiastic, high-tech crowd at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Obama said, “what you see is … a belief that if you have a good idea, and you want to put in the sweat and blood and tears to make it happen, that not only can you succeed for yourself but grow the economy for everybody.”
“It’s that driving spirit that has made Americaan economic superpower,” Obama said.
“The most important thing right now is to pass American jobs act,” the president said after one woman asked how to get her mother, in her 60s, back to work.
Obama said the jobs plan would prevent discrimination against the long-term unemployed, and he vowed the Defense Department and others should help veterans get credentials to leverage their skills.
In the short term, Obama wants Congress to cover the cost of his jobs plan by, among other changes, limiting the itemized deductions for charitable contributions and other deductions that can be taken by individuals making more than $200,000 a year and families making over $250,000.
President also tried to encourage the jobless. “The problem is not you, the problem is the economy on a whole,” he said.
Obama praised the innovators and championed the startup philosophy.”America’s success is based on individuals,” president said. “Entrepreneurs going out there and making a whole lot of money, and that’s great. That’s what makes America so successful.”
“Would you please raise my taxes?” a man who described himself as unemployed by choice after succeeding at a search-engine startup company that did “quite well” asked the president. Later he was identified as former Google executive Doug Edwards.
Edwards left Google in 2005, shortly after the Internet giant went public, turning him and other company employees into multimillionaires.
“I appreciate the fact that you recognize that we’re in this thing together. We’re not our own,” Obama answered. “Those of who have been successful have always got to remember that.”
Obama said he did not want to punish the rich, but rather to return income tax rates to the level of the 1990s that he said were fair.
“During that period, the rich got richer,” the president said. “The middle class expanded. People rose out of poverty.”
Edwards encouraged Obama to “stay strong” in his push for higher taxes on the wealthy.
Obama also said the financial crisis rippling throughEuropeis “scaring the world” and that steps taken by European nations to stem the eurozone debt problem “haven’t been as quick as they need to be.”
His reference to the European debt crisis came on the heels of remarks by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who over the weekend urged governments to unite with the European Central Bank to help defuse the “most serious risk now confronting the world economy.”
Members of the Republican leadership also stopped bySilicon Valley, appearing at a town hall at Facebook to discuss jobs.
“The Valley is open to the best ideas, whether they come from Democrats or Republicans,” said Dean Garfield, president and chief executive of the Information Technology Industry Council, which lobbies for Apple Inc., Google Inc. and other tech companies.
Barack Obama was also holding three fundraisers Monday, two inLos Angelesand one inSan Diego, on the heels of four he held Sunday as he races to collect cash ahead of a Friday quarterly fundraising deadline that will provide a snapshot of the president’s strength against the gelling GOP field.
The president used the events to try out his newly aggressive tone with supporters who have been disappointed with the president’s compromises with the GOP.
“I can’t do it alone. You guys are my ambassadors, you guys are my advocates and my shock troops out there,” Obama told donors inLa Jolla,Calif., where 130 guests paid $5,000 per ticket to attend a private lunch where he spoke. [via Huff Post, ABC and USA Today]