Obama Targets Youth Vote at Facebook Town Hall
In a campaign-style dialogue, the president pitched health care, immigration reform and why he thinks young people should hit the polls in 2012.
On the second leg of a three-day town hall tour, President Obama visited Facebook's Palo Alto, Calif., headquarters for a conversation with "the youth." Fielding questions from both Facebook users around the country and staffers at the office, he touched on a broad range of subjects, including the deficit, health care and the housing crisis.
Mindful of his audience, the president emphasized the more liberal elements of his agenda, such as protecting the social safety net and the DREAM Act. Twice he reminded them that he "can't do it by [himself]." Thankfully, references to 4/20 were avoided.
Check out The Root's Twitter notes (@theroot247) under the #fbtownhall hashtag, where we tuned in live. For those not on Twitter, here are a few highlights.
* On the Republican 2012 budget plan:
"Yes, I think it's fair to say that their vision is radical. No, I don't think it's particularly courageous ... Nothing is easier than solving a problem on the backs of people who are poor or people who are powerless or don't have lobbyists or don't have clout. I don't think that's particularly courageous."
* On the difficulties of homeownership:
"A lot of people who bought a first home when credit was easy now are finding that credit is tough. And we've got to strike a balance. Frankly, there's some folks who are probably better off renting.
" ... There are certain communities with high foreclosure rates where what we're trying to do is see if can we help state and local governments take over some of these homes and convert them and provide favorable terms to first-time home buyers. But frankly, I think we've got to understand that the days where it was really easy to buy a house without any money down is probably over. What I'm really concerned about is making sure that the housing market overall recovers enough that it's not such a huge drag on the economy, because if it isn't, then people will have more confidence, they'll spend more, more people will get hired and overall the economy will improve."
* On immigration reform:
"First of all, let's make the legal-immigration system more fair than it is and more efficient than it is ... If we've got smart people who want to come here and start businesses and are Ph.D.'s in math and science and computer science, why don't we want them to say? I mean, why would we want to send them someplace else? Those are potential job creators.
" ... But point number two is, you also have a lot of unskilled workers who are now here who are living in the shadows. They're contributing to our economy in all sorts of ways. ... But they're scared, and they feel as if they're locked out of their surroundings. What I've said is they did break the law -- they have to take responsibility for that. They should pay a fine. They should learn English. They should go to the back of the line so that they don't automatically get citizenship. But there should be a pathway for them to get legalized in our society so they don't fear for themselves or their families, so that families aren't separated."
* On staying politically engaged:
"I hope that everybody here -- that you don't get frustrated and cynical about our democracy. I mean it is frustrating. Lord knows it's frustrating. And I know that some of you who might have been involved in the campaign or been energized back in 2008, you're frustrated that, gosh, it didn't get done fast enough and it seems like everybody is bickering all the time. Just remember that we've been through tougher times before.
" ... So rather than be discouraged, I hope everybody is willing to double down and work even harder. Regardless of your political affiliation, you've got to be involved, especially the young people here, your generation. If you don't give us a shove, if you don't give the system a push, it's just not going to change. And you're going to be the ones who end up suffering the consequences."
Cynthia Gordy is The Root's Washington reporter.