President Obama made history Wednesday afternoon by becoming the first president to live tweet during the White House’s Twitter town hall meeting. The goal of the event was to engage the American public in the high-stakes, “spirited debate” taking place in Washington about raising the nation’s debt ceiling and lowering the deficit.
The first question asked Obama what mistakes he’s made in handling the recession and what he’d do differently. The president said that he would have done a better job of explaining its magnitude and providing a more realistic timeline of how long it would take for the economy to recover.
“I think people may not have been prepared for how long this was going to take and why we were going to have to make some very difficult decisions and choices,” Obama said. “And I take responsibility for that because, you know, setting people’s expectations is part of how you end up being able to respond well.”
The other area he wishes he’d handled differently is the continuing decline in the housing market, which has been “a big drag” on the economy. Obama explained that his administration has had to revamp its housing program several times to help people hang on to their homes and lift property values, but it has been the “most stubborn” problem to solve.
Responding to a tweet about the high cost of higher education, Obama cited administration initiatives such as increases in student loan and grant programs, and that in 2013, student loans will become much more manageable because graduates won’t be required to use more than ten percent of their incomes to repay loans.
“I do think that the universities still have a role in trying to keep their costs down, and I think that it's important. Even if we've got better student loan programs, more grants, if the costs keep on going up, then we'll never have enough money, you'll never get enough help to avoid taking on these huge debts,” he added.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) sent in a tweet that asked, “After embarking on a record spending binge that has left us deeper in debt, where are the jobs?”
After observing that it was a “slightly skewed question,” Obama acknowledged that jobs haven’t grown fast enough, but also noted that Republicans have resisted some ideas and initiatives that would help solve that problem.
“But I’m just going to keep on trying. And eventually, I’m sure the speaker will see the light,” he said.
(Photo: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)