President Barack Obama shared his plan to improve the nationwide debt, as well as his ideas to improve healthcare, education and immigration during an hourlong Facebook Live town hall Wednesday. Moderated by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the President took questions from company employees, online viewers and even Zuckerberg himself. "Historically, part of what makes for a healthy democracy ... is when you get citizens who are informed, who are engaged," Obama said. "Facebook helps make sure this isn't a one-way conversation."
Here are highlights from the town hall:
The deficit: The President called the country's economic state an "unsustainable situation." In hopes of cutting the debt by $4 trillion dollars, the President suggested reduced government spending, increased taxes for the wealthy and for corporations, and finding a solution to keep Medicare and Medicaid costs down as more and more baby boomers continue to retire. When asked by a Facebook employee what he thought of Republican Congressman Paul Ryan's proposed budget, Obama called Ryan's plan "short-sighted." He also said the plan showed no consideration for those less fortunate or future generations, and emphasized the proposed cuts to education, clean energy and transportation.
Health care: The President said he wants to improve on last year's health care reform and continue to make the system more efficient. He hopes to provide incentives for a more integrated system similar to the VA Health Care system for veterans. Obama defended government's increased role in health care, saying that the government imposition would help save money for both the government and citizens, while also making the system more efficient.
Immigration: The President addressed the failed DREAM Act, saying that young immigrants of good character and in school or the military are "potential job creators." He also, however, discussed fines for illegal immigrants while still giving them a more "efficient" path to citizenship, more secure borders and "comprehensive immigration reform."
Education: The President backed up his "Race to Reform" platform in public schools and said the initiative has brought some of the "most meaningful reforms in a generation." He said he hopes to have a federal education law in place before the 2012 election about how to initiate such reform. The President also listed teachers, data and an increased focus on math and science-related subjects (especially to girls) as keys to success. At the end of the town hall, he listed education, along with the debt, clean energy and immigration as high priorities for his current administration.
At the end of the town hall, Zuckerberg — fittingly — handed the President a Facebook hoodie.