Monday, September 20, 2010

Obama holds town hall on economy on CNBC today

President Obama held a “town hall” at noon EDT Monday Sept. 20 on CNBC, with the major story by Jeff Cox here. The forum was called “Investing in America”.

The event was held at the Newseum in Washington DC, on Pennsylvania Ave., not far from the Capitol.

The president said that we had pulled the economy from the brink, but that recovery is slow. The first questioner asked whether greater personal hardship was the “new reality.”

The town hall occurred on a day when the NBER, or National Bureau of Economic Research, declared the Great Recession of 2009 over. The NBER paper is here and explains how it classifies recessions and the meaning of the concept of a “trough”.

Ted Brassfield, a law student, said he went back to school to pursue a life of public service. He said that school loans and marriage are “awfully expensive”, as if to suggest that public service and family life are not compatible economically. (There’s more money on Wall Street.) This follows the debate on how difficult it is economically to have and raise children today.

Obama said that about 60% of our deficit comes from entitlements. He said we have to take in enough money to cover the cost of the benefits, which include not only seniors, but also veterans. He brushed away the MC question on cutting social security and Medicare benefits.

He said we spend only 2% on infrastructure, compared to China’s 9% and Europe’s 5%.

A GWU grad student named Andy Conte probed the president on the Tea Party ideology, and here the president did acknowledge the need for specifics on proposals to reduce benefits if more taxes are not collected. Michelle Bachman is reported in liberal media as wanting to cut off people under 60 from the social security system entirely, and means test many others.

In his video address Saturday, the president had called for a law forcing disclosure of corporate backers of candidates on the Internet. This was a controversy before with the FEC, as I have previously discussed. The danger is that a carelessly crafted law could affect ordinary bloggers.  Republicans have opposed the law, but maybe for the wrong reasons.

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