Obama 311 reuters.
(photo credit: Reuters)
US President Barack Obama took to Twitter on Wednesday to press his economic agenda, using the popular social media site to tweak Republicans and advocate for a deal to reduce the deficit.
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In a "town hall" style meeting that lasted about an hour, the president fielded questions posted by users of the Twitter site and sent his first live tweet from a laptop in the White House East Room -- making what he called presidential history.
Sitting on a tall stool with a screen that showed tweeted questions nearby, Obama responded aloud before an audience of 140 invited guests who came to the White House for the event. That number was a nod to a key part of "tweeting." Twitter users send short, 140-character messages through the Internet about issues large and small.
The event was moderated by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.
Obama, who is not known for brevity, touched on topics ranging from the weak housing market to NASA to the debate about the U.S. debt ceiling.
Obama is locked in a dispute with congressional Republicans about how to reduce the US deficit and raise the debt ceiling, and he used many of his answers during the town hall to press his case for ending tax loopholes while reducing spending.
"The debt ceiling should not be something that is used as a gun against the heads of the American people to extract tax breaks for corporate jet owners or oil and gas companies that are making billions of dollars because the price of gasoline has gone up so high," he said.
Obama's rhetoric was meant to put pressure on Republicans, who largely
oppose tax hikes as part of a deal to reduce the US deficit and raise
the borrowing limit.
Asked by one Twitter user what mistakes he had made in office, Obama singled out the moribund housing market.
"The continuing decline in the housing market is something that hasn't bottomed out as quickly as we expected," he said.
"We've had to revamp our housing program several times to try to help
people stay in their homes and try to start lifting home values up."
The White House has tried using Twitter and other new media outlets to
reach American voters, sometimes making announcements that way instead
of through more traditional journalistic venues. The White House's
twitter account has some 2.25 million followers.