Archive for President Obama

President Obama Pushes Jobs Program In LinkedIn Town Hall

President Obama on LinkedIn, Getty Images

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:

Job Creation

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.

Small business

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.


Getty Images

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 an IBM program 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.

How Obama’s Story Telling May Shift the Conversation on Health Care

The debate on health care has reached a fever pitch with both sides — those for and against it – dug in for the fight.  Until now, President Obama, the most cerebral of presidents, has used the logic of his argument to try to communicate to the American people the details of his health plan.  But it hasn’t been working.

So, in a town-hall-style meeting in Colorado over the weekend, he reverted to the oldest form of communication on earth – story telling.  As my friend and fellow blogger Annie Hart in says in her blog Stories Change the World, “Storytelling is the oldest, most powerful form of communication on the planet. Stories create powerful images that inspire us to think and act in new ways. By harnessing the power of story, you hold the power of creation in your hands.”

In his entreaties to the crowd, the President talked about his own grandmother to push back against unsubstantiated claims that his plan would deny care to elderly parents.  “I just lost my grandmother last year.  I know what it’s like to watch somebody you love who’s aging deteriorate, and have to struggle with that.”  He vigorously denied that the notion that members of congress who have to vote on health care legislation would pull the plug on the elderly.

Story telling appeals to our emotions.  And Obama made a direct appeal to the emotions of his listeners – could anyone believe the government would deny care to grannie?

That’s what reporters want to hear – stories with a middle, beginning and end.  As writing becomes more informal, a direct result of the internet, even news stories look more and more like feature stories.  The old shibboleth of starting a news story with the traditional “who, what, where when and why” has given way to stories that begin “American military women have changed the way the U.S. goes to war and they have done so without the disruption of discipline and unit cohesion that some feared.” (NY Times). This is the beginning of a story, and you want to hear more.

Or, “Khalid Khan’s small construction firm (in Afghanistan) was supposed to build a road here that would open his strife-scarred land to commerce and improve its prospects for peace. Instead he wound up in the hands of the Taliban, hanging upside down.” (WSJ).  You definitely want to know what happened to him.

Have you noticed when you are watching local TV, a reporter covering an accident will begin an interview with the question, “What happened?”  Then a bystander will tell the story, “I was sitting on my stoop when all of a sudden I heard a loud crash. I looked over and saw two cars.  They were a wreck.  I ran to the scene of the accident and with help from other people I tried desperately to pull the passengers from the cars before there was an explosion, but I couldn’t get them out.  I was never so scared in my life.”   Here is a neat little story with a beginning: the crash.  A middle:  he ran to scene but couldn’t get them out.  An ending: he was scared to death.

So, the next time you are trying to get a response from a friend, or a customer, try telling a story.  Involve them.  Tug at their emotions.  It often works as you engage your friend in a story that you both create.