Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • The President: Well, thank you so much, Facebook, for hosting this,

  • first of all.

  • (applause)

  • My name is Barack Obama, and I'm the guy who got Mark to wear a

  • jacket and tie.

  • (applause)

  • Thank you.

  • (laughter)

  • I'm very proud of that.

  • (laughter)

  • Mr. Zuckerberg: Second time.

  • The President: I know.

  • (laughter)

  • I will say -- and I hate to tell stories on Mark,

  • but the first time we had dinner together and he wore this jacket

  • and tie, I'd say halfway through dinner he's starting to sweat a

  • little bit.

  • It's really uncomfortable for him.

  • So I helped him out of his jacket.

  • (laughter)

  • And in fact, if you'd like, Mark,

  • we can take our jackets off.

  • Mr. Zuckerberg: That's good.

  • (applause)

  • The President: Woo, that's better, isn't it?

  • Mr. Zuckerberg: Yes, but you're a lot better at this stuff than me.

  • (laughter)

  • The President: So, first of all, I just want to say thank you to all of you for

  • taking the time -- not only people who are here in the

  • audience, but also folks all over the country and some around

  • the world who are watching this town hall.

  • The main reason we wanted to do this is, first of all,

  • because more and more people, especially young people,

  • are getting their information through different media.

  • And obviously what all of you have built together is helping

  • to revolutionize how people get information,

  • how they process information, how they're connecting with each other.

  • And historically, part of what makes for a healthy democracy,

  • what is a good politics, is when you've got citizens who are

  • informed, who are engaged.

  • And what Facebook allows us to do is make sure this isn't just

  • a one-way conversation; makes sure that not only am I speaking

  • to you but you're also speaking back and we're in a

  • conversation, we're in a dialogue.

  • So I love doing town hall meetings.

  • This format and this company I think is an ideal means for us

  • to be able to carry on this conversation.

  • And as Mark mentioned, obviously we're having a very serious

  • debate right now about the future direction of our country.

  • We are living through as tumultuous a time as certainly

  • I've seen in my lifetime.

  • Admittedly, my lifetime is a lot longer than most of yours so far.

  • This is a pretty young crowd.

  • But we're seeing, domestically, a whole series of challenges,

  • starting with the worst recession we've had since the

  • Great Depression.

  • We're just now coming out of it.

  • We've got all sorts of disruptions,

  • technological disruptions that are taking place,

  • most of which hold the promise of making our lives a lot

  • better, but also mean that there are a lot of adjustments that

  • people are having to make throughout the economy.

  • We still have a very high unemployment rate that is

  • starting to come down, but there are an awful lot of people who

  • are being challenged out there, day in, day out,

  • worrying about whether they can pay the bills,

  • whether they can keep their home.

  • Internationally, we're seeing the sorts of changes that we

  • haven't seen in a generation.

  • We've got certain challenges like energy and climate change

  • that no one nation can solve but we're going to have to solve together.

  • And we don't yet have all the institutions that are in place

  • in order to do that.

  • But what makes me incredibly optimistic -- and that's why

  • being here at Facebook is so exciting for me -- is that at

  • every juncture in our history, whenever we face challenges like

  • this, whether it's been the shift from a agricultural age to

  • a industrial age, or whether it was facing the challenges of the

  • Cold War, or trying to figure out how we make this country

  • more fair and more inclusive, at every juncture we've always been

  • able to adapt.

  • We've been able to change and we've been able to get ahead of the curve.

  • And that's true today as well, and you guys are at the cutting

  • edge of what's happening.

  • And so I'm going to be interested in talking to all of

  • you about why this debate that we're having around debt and our

  • deficits is so important, because it's going to help

  • determine whether we can invest in our future and basic research

  • and innovation and infrastructure that will allow

  • us to compete in the 21st century and still preserve a

  • safety net for the most vulnerable among us.

  • But I'm also going to want to share ideas with you about how

  • we can make our democracy work better and our politics work

  • better -- because I don't think there's a problem out there that

  • we can't solve if we decide that we're going to solve it together.

  • And for that, I'm grateful for the opportunity to speak to you.

  • And instead of just giving a lot of long speeches I want to make

  • sure that we've got time for as many questions as possible.

  • So, Mark, I understand you got the first one.

  • Mr. Zuckerberg: Yes, let's start off.

  • So let's start off with the conversation about the debt.

  • So I understand that yesterday morning you had a town hall in

  • Virginia where you talked about your framework not only for

  • resolving the short-term budget issues,

  • but the longer-term debt.

  • And you spent some time talking about tax reform and some cost

  • cutting, but you also spent a lot of time talking about things

  • that you didn't think that we could cut -- in education,

  • infrastructure and clean energy.

  • So my question to kind of start off is: What specifically do you

  • think we should do, and what specifically do you think we can

  • cut in order to make this all add up?

  • The President: Well, let me, first of all, Mark, share with you sort

  • of the nature of the problem, because I think a lot of folks

  • understand that it's a problem but aren't sure how it came about.

  • In 2000, at the end of the Clinton administration,

  • we not only had a balanced budget but we actually had a surplus.

  • And that was in part because of some tough decisions that had

  • been made by President Clinton, Republican Congresses,

  • Democratic Congresses, and President George H. W. Bush.

  • And what they had said was let's make sure that we're spending

  • wisely on the things that matter;

  • let's spend less on things that don't matter;

  • and let's make sure that we're living within our means,

  • that we're taking in enough revenue to pay for some of these

  • basic obligations.

  • What happened then was we went through 10 years where we forgot

  • what had created the surplus in the first place.

  • So we had a massive tax cut that wasn't offset by cuts in spending.

  • We had two wars that weren't paid for.

  • And this was the first time in history where we had gone to war

  • and not asked for additional sacrifice from American citizens.

  • We had a huge prescription drug plan that wasn't paid for.

  • And so by the time I started office we already had about a

  • trillion-dollar annual deficit and we had massive accumulated

  • debt with interest payments to boot.

  • Then you have this huge recession.

  • And so what happens is less revenue is coming in -- because

  • company sales are lower, individuals are making less

  • money -- at the same time there's more need out there.

  • So we're having to help states and we're having to help local governments.

  • And that -- a lot of what the recovery was about was us making

  • sure that the economy didn't tilt over into a depression by

  • making sure that teachers weren't laid off and

  • firefighters weren't laid off, and there was still construction

  • for roads and so forth -- all of which was expensive.

  • I mean, that added about another trillion dollars worth of debt.

  • So now what we've got is a situation not only do we have

  • this accumulated debt, but the baby boomers are just now

  • starting to retire.

  • And what's scary is not only that the baby boomers are

  • retiring at a greater rate, which means they're making

  • greater demands on Social Security,

  • but primarily Medicare and Medicaid,

  • but health care costs go up a lot faster than inflation and

  • older populations use more health care costs.

  • You put that all together, and we have an unsustainable situation.

  • So right now we face a critical time where we're going to have

  • to make some decisions how do we bring down the debt in the short

  • term, and how do we bring down the debt over the long term.

  • In the short term, Democrats and Republicans now agree we've got

  • to reduce the debt by about $4 trillion over the next 10 years.

  • And I know that sounds like a lot of money -- it is.

  • But it's doable if we do it in a balanced way.

  • What I proposed was that about $2 trillion over 10 to 12 years

  • is reduction in spending.

  • Government wastes, just like every other major institution

  • does, and so there are things that we do that we can afford

  • not to do.

  • Now, there are some things that I'd like to do, are fun to do,