Obama Talks Budget, Deficit and Debt with Zuckerberg

By Nick Gass

Apr 20, 2011 6:54pm

ABC News' David Kerley reports:

In the plain office park headquarters of Facebook in Palo Alto, California, President Obama at a town hall meeting on the budget debate said the Republican plan is not very courageous and called it “fairly radical,” adding it will “change our social compact in a pretty fundamental way.”

The President came west to continue to push his vision for the debt and deficit. But it’s a trip about another type of money; campaign contributions. The President will attend six fundraisers as he visits San Francisco, Reno, and Los Angeles.

On the budget negotiations, the president said Paul Ryan, the House Budget chairman, who is leading the republican charge, “sincere. I think he's a patriot.” But the President then continued to attack his budget plan claiming it would cut spending and cuts taxes for the wealthy. “I guess you could call that bold. I would call it short-sighted,” he said to the 500 Facebook employees and 200 other guests. “Nothing is easier than solving a problem on the backs of people who are poor or people who are powerless or don't have lobbyists or don't have clout,” Mr. Obama said.

The President again called for the expiration of tax cuts for the wealthy. Mr. Obama said millionaires like himself and Zuckerberg will have to pay more. “I'm cool with that,” the 26-year-old Zuckerberg interjected.

The President renewed his call for cuts to the defense budget, up to $400 billion dollars. Throughout his debate with republicans on the budget,” the President has called for a “balanced approach so as not to upset the economic recovery.

Referring to a car with a clutch, the President said, “We've got to hit the accelerator but, you know, we've got to also make sure that we don't gun it.  We can't let the car slip backwards.”  He warned about drastic cuts proposed by republicans saying, “doesn't slash spending so drastically that we can't still make investments in education, that we can't still make

investments in infrastructure, all of which would help the economy grow.” 

Facebook has 19 million “friends” signed up, and the company streamed the town hall live. Mr. Obama’s campaign, and White House has used Facebook extensively. The Press Secretary was asked if this was a “thank you” stop. Jay Carney said “absolutely not.”

The President told the relatively young crowd they need to get involved in the political process.. “But if you are behind it, if you put the same energy and – and imagination that you put into Facebook into the political process, I guarantee you there's nothing we can't solve.”

Mr. Obama joked at the beginning of the meeting that he was one of the few people who could get Mark Zuckerberg to wear a suit and tie. The President then invited the Facebook founder, known for wearing t-shirts, to join him in taking off their suit coats. As the town hall finished up, Zuckerberg presented the President with a Facebook hoodie. Mr. Obama cracked, “This is a high fashion statement right here.”

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