On his swing through the West Coast, President Barack Obama stopped in Silicon Valley today where he answered questions for an hour at LinkedIn's campus in Mountain View. His main focus: Jobs.
He deftly turned almost every question from the audience back into a endorsement for his newly proposed jobs bill.
Obama's stop through the South Bay came after a weekend of pricey fundraising events in the Bay Area -- including a private dinner chez Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, where Lady Gaga paid the $38,500 to sit down for a bite to eat with the president.
When a woman in the audience today asked about what resources were available to help the long-term unemployed, he told her that his new bill prohibits discrimination against a job candidate because of their unemployment status; the bill also gives employers a $4,000 tax credit when they hire long-term unemployed workers.
The president also heaped praise on Silicon Valley, pointing to its spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation. The region's reputation for success also came up when Obama picked a man from the audience to ask a question. He rose and explained that he'd been successful at a "search engine" company "down the street" and was now "unemployed by choice."
"Would you please raise my taxes?" he asked, to applause from the audience. Obama took that as a launching pad, continuing with statistics about current tax rates compared to the 1950s (hint: they're the lowest now since then) and tax changes since he began (another hint: they've been lowered for small businesses 16 times since he's been in office).
Obama also fielded questions from a veteran from Arizona with 25 years of service, acknowledging that the U.S. has "not done as good a job" as in the past when it comes to helping veterans transition into civilian jobs and calling it a "failure on the part of the DOD and VA."
But the highlight came when a woman in the audience asked questions on behalf of her mother, who is nearing retirement age and worrying about her Social Security and Medicare. And after giving a heartfelt reassurance that Social Security will be there for her, no matter what, Obama punctuated his statement with a heartfelt: "tell [your mom] I said, 'Hi.'"