President Barack Obama touted his jobs bill and took questions on the economy in Silicon Valley Monday at a town hall run by LinkedIn, the professional networking website that some job-seekers flock to.
It was the president’s latest outreach to voters via a major social networking company. In April, Obama held a town hall targeted at younger Americans at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. In July, the White House hosted the first presidential town hall facilitated by Twitter.
At the town hall Monday, Obama tried to reassure his audience that his jobs package will help alleviate high unemployment and revitalize a sluggish economy.
“The American Jobs Act is specifically tailored to putting more … folks back to work,” Obama said at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. Though “it’s not going to solve all of our problems … it’s the right step to take right now.”
“Every time I come to Silicon Valley and this region, I am excited about America’s future,” the president said. “No part of the country better represents, I think, the essence of America than here. What you see is entrepreneurship and a forward orientation and optimism and a belief that if you have a good idea and you are willing to put in the sweat, blood, and tears, not only can you succeed for yourself, but grow the economy for everybody. It’s that driving spirit that has made America an economic superpower.”
Obama — who has his own LinkedIn account — answered questions from LinkedIn users and the audience, including from a man who said he was unemployed by choice after working for a search engine start-up “down the street.” Google is headquartered in Mountain View. The man, whom Obama called on in the crowd, asked the president to raise his taxes to pay for the same kind of investments that helped get him prosper.
When a small business owner complained about taxes and regulation, Obama went on the attack against his GOP opponents.
“You’re going to hear from Republicans over the next year and a half that somehow if we just eliminated pollution controls or if we just eliminated basic consumer protections, that somehow that in and of itself will be a spur to growth. I disagree with that,” he said. Earlier this month, though, Obama did suspend anti-smog regulations, yielding to companies and Republicans who argued that the rules would lead to job losses.
Obama also hit Republicans for proposing a voucher program to replace Medicare. That, he said, is something he’s “not going to do.”
Though he kept his criticisms of the GOP generic at the town hall, Obama has become more combative in recent days against specific Republican presidential rivals and leaders in Congress. At a fundraiser Sunday night, Obama took a not very veiled swipe at Texas Gov. Rick Perry, saying “You’ve got a governor whose state is on fire denying climate change.”