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Obama Holds First Presidential Twitter Town Hall

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In some of his harshest language to date in the fight over the deficit, President Obama warned Wednesday that the debt ceiling should not be “used as a gun” against Americans to extract tax breaks for the wealthy.
Speaking at the Twitter Town Hall at the White House Wednesday, the president said Congress “shouldn’t be toying” with the debt ceiling and cautioned against risking the financial health of the country in order to protect the interests of the super wealthy.  
The president was adamant that when it comes to fixing the economy and solving the deficit problem “we should go with what works,” and that’s a tax increase on the wealthy, he said.
“If the wealthiest among us -- and I include myself in this category -- are willing to give up a little bit more, then we can solve this problem.  It does not take a lot… when people say, you know, 'job-killing tax increases, that's what Obama's proposing,' we're not going to,” he said. “You're entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.  And the facts are that a modest increase for wealthy individuals is not shown to have an adverse impact on job growth.”
The president stressed that a balanced approach is necessary to reach an agreement to raise the country’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by Aug. 2 and that both sides will have to give a little.
The president also responded to Republican criticism about the slow pace of economic recovery, specifically, a tweet from House Speaker John Boehner asking, “where are the jobs?”
“John's the Speaker of the House, he's a Republican, and so this is a slightly skewed question. But what he's right about is that we have not seen fast enough job growth relative to the need,” Obama conceded.
Despite the nation’s 9.1 percent unemployment rate, the president touted that his administration has created two million jobs in the private sector over the past 15 months, and highlighted several initiatives including the payroll tax that was passed in December and other tax cuts to small businesses.
The president did admit that he’s made a few mistakes in handling the recession. “I think people may not have been prepared for how long this was going to take and why we were going to have to make some very difficult decisions and choices … and I take responsibility for that because, you know, setting people's expectations is part of how you end up being able to respond well,” Obama said.
During the roughly hour-long event, the president responded to 24 tweets, answering 17 questions and reacting to seven responses to his comments on issues ranging from welfare and immigration, to housing and education.
The president, who just started tweeting himself a few weeks ago, started off the event by tweeting his own question. “In order to reduce the deficit,what costs would you cut and what investments would you keep -- bo,” Obama posted on the @whitehouse Twitter feed, which currently has over 2.25 million followers.
While questions from around the country were asked in Twitter’s 140-character limit, the president was given ample time to answer his questions orally. “I know, Twitter, I'm supposed to be short,” the president joked at one point, before continuing on with a lengthy answer about education.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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