President Obama on Monday sought to reassure people anxious about finding jobs and the future of entitlements at a LinkedIn town hall in Mountain View, Calif., while also taking the opportunity to once again plug his American Jobs Act.
Obama, in detailed responses, answered questions on subjects ranging from regulations on small businesses to retraining veterans. The event was part of a three-state Western fundraising swing.
Obama repeated his admonition that passing his $447 billion jobs-creation bill was “the most important thing we can do right now” to help people get back to work. He also said the plan could have ripple effects and help the long-term economy take off.
He framed the proposal as an investment in Americans’ futures and likened it to the investments people had made in him and the many other successful people in the room.
“We benefited from somebody somewhere making an investment in us,” Obama said. “How are we going to continue to make the investments that are going to propel America forward?”
He cited predictions that the proposal, if passed as a whole, would increase GDP by close to 2 percent and employ 1.9 million people.
One member of the audience, who said he was able to retire early after working for what he referred to as a start-up search engine in Silicon Valley, asked Obama to raise his taxes, drawing laughter and cheers from the audience. The president thanked the man, who he said recognized that if he paid higher taxes, it would help the country as a whole.
“Whenever America’s moved forward, it’s been because we’ve moved forward together,” Obama said.
Many of Obama’s answers steered back to the American Jobs Act and how it would help the unemployed and veterans and improve education and infrastructure. He also warned that the United States needs to get its act together if it is going to compete internationally.
The appearance allowed Obama to give a sort of pep talk to frustrated voters. He told one man who is unemployed, “The problem is not you, the problem is the economy as a whole,” and reassured others that they would be successful. He also tried to ease concerns about Social Security and Medicare, saying entitlements would not be touched for the people on the verge of accessing the programs but that they needed to be reformed in the long run.