LinkedIn hosted President Obama on a live webcast this afternoon to answer questions that were submitted online by LinkedIn members and LinkedIn employees in the studio audience.
This astute President knows the viral power of social media. While watching the broadcast live, viewers could also follow a stream of Twitter and Facebook updates that would spread to millions of followers and their followers.
If you missed it, here are the key topics he covered:
This was at the top of the list in most questions. The President, as might be expected, pushed for the Congress to pass his American Jobs Act. This includes an expansion of the payroll tax break, along with more spending on school and road projects. He said that independent economists estimate the legislation would generate a 2% increase in GDP and 1.9 million in jobs.
He took special note of the programs to help veterans find jobs. For example, if a 25-year-old veteran has spent years as an emergency medical technician in the service and wants to attend nursing school he shouldn’t be required to start all over. There should be programs in place for veterans and employees in the private sector to credential them for their work experience. Their skills should translate directly to jobs.
He noted that the problem wasn’t with the people out of work – many of whom have the skills and credentials to find jobs. It’s the state of the economy.
In answer to a question about onerous taxes and regulations on small business, he claimed that his administration had cut taxes on small businesses 16 times. He said business would get tax breaks for hiring, making capital investments, hiring veterans and other measures. He’s also proposed no capital gains on a start-up new business.
President Obama seemed a little startled – and certainly happy – when an audience member asked him “Will you please raise my taxes?” Turns out he was retired from a start-up search engine company (he left us to guess which one). The questioner asked in particular that tax cuts expire that benefit the wealthy.
The President said he has also instructed government agencies to “look back” at old regulations to re-examine the ones that have outlived their usefulness and to eliminate bureaucracy and red tape.
The President commented that the U.S. had fallen woefully behind other countries in graduating students from high school and college. He encouraged more technical training and for community colleges to train its students for jobs that exist now and not old jobs.
He pointed to anprogram with the New York City school system. If students commit to work hard and follow the program, IBM will hire them at the end of the process. It will be a practical application for what they are learning in school even if they don’t have a four-year degree. He lauded the concept of apprenticeship and vigorous training for potential careers.
Social Security and Medicare
In a response to a young women’s question in the audience about her 65-year-old mother, Mr. Obama said Medicare and Social Security will always be there as a safety net. But he acknowledged that long-term challenges will have to be met to keep the programs viable. With people living longer, fewer workers are supporting retirees. Adjustments will have to be made. He suggested one – to lift the cap on payroll contributions so that millionaires will pay their fair share.
He pointed to technology – such as sharing electronic medical records – to help reduce Medicare costs.
How Did He Do?
President Obama, as usual, seemed relaxed and smiled often in exchanges with the audiences. You would never have thought his popularity in the polls has dropped so precipitously. Maybe he was just glad to get out of Washington. I’m sure that was a temporary tonic for what ails him as he struggles to help lift the economy.