Barack Obama photo

Interview With Steve Grove of YouTube

January 27, 2011

GROVE: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the White House. My name is Steve Grove, and I'm the head of news and politics at YouTube. And we're delighted that President Obama has once again invited us to the White House to answer your top-voted questions in the first exclusive interview after the State of the Union speech.

Welcome back to YouTube, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: It's great to be here, Steve. Thank you so much for doing this.

GROVE: Well, I should tell you, Mr. President, that over 140,000 questions were submitted on YouTube over the past few days, over a million votes cast. You see some of these videos here flying over the map of the U.S. And we're going to try to go to as many of these as we possibly can today, and let's just get right into it.

THE PRESIDENT: Let's -- let's dive in.

GROVE: The first question is from America's heartland.

Q: I'm Richard Love from Akron, Ohio. Mr. President, I just got out of the Marine Corps infantry after serving two tours in Afghanistan, and now I'm unemployed. How are you going to help people like me?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, this is a great question. As you know, we have over a million people who've now served either in Iraq or Afghanistan.

All of them have done extraordinary work. And it is our moral obligation to make sure that we are serving them as well as they've served us.

And so there are a couple of things that we're doing right away. Number one, the Department of Defense and the VA are working together to make sure that we've got a career counseling program available. The minute folks are getting out of the armed services, we are helping them to make sure that they know where to land, what kinds of skills are transferable to what industries.

GROVE: Mm-hmm.

THE PRESIDENT: We're trying to gather up companies who are willing to hire folks who have come out of the military. And we are making a big push with employers to say: These folks have shown leadership, They have been trained. They have performed at high levels, in very difficult situations. They're going to be great assets to help rebuild the country.

But beyond Department of Defense and to Veterans Affairs, I've given a presidential directive to every agency to make sure that they are looking to hire veterans, that job-training programs, social service programs, anything that we've got in any of the agencies --

GROVE: Mm-hmm.

THE PRESIDENT: -- housing, education, you name it -- that they are directed specially to making sure that these veterans are served.

GROVE: What about job creation overall? You know, Wayne from Artesia, California, asked -- you know, he's a -- he's a recent college graduate. He says: How are you going to help recent college graduates like myself when there are fewer highly competitive points of entry? We've done everything by the book with little success, and we find ourselves in huge debt.

THE PRESIDENT: All right. Well, a couple of points here. First of all, the reason they're in huge debt is because the cost of their college educations are so high.

GROVE: Mm-hmm.

THE PRESIDENT: And that's why we've put such a big emphasis on eliminating unwarranted subsidies to banks, shifting billions of dollars into our student-loan programs.

We've now made it so that young people, when they get out, shouldn't have to pay more than 10 percent of their income to repaying their student debt, which alleviates a big burden on them.

We were talking about veterans earlier. Obviously, the post-9/11 GI Bill is a huge asset for making sure our veterans and their spouses are able to get the training they need.

But the overall jobs picture is still really tough out there. We created a million point -- a million-300,000 jobs last year in the private sector -- [audio break] -- that we passed during the lame-duck session that is providing incentives to business to, you know, invest in business and equipment this year; making sure that there's a payroll-tax cut that can spur more consumer spending and economic growth.

All those things are going to be absolutely critical. But, you know, obviously if you don't have a job right now, it's tough.

GROVE: And --

THE PRESIDENT: And -- and -- and we've got to make sure that we're focused exclusively on economic growth over these next 12 months.

GROVE: A lot of these job-creation programs cost money, and a lot of Americans are worried about the debt.


GROVE: Let's go to Charles Wagster, who writes, "Mr. President, you have all these plans to help the nation's businesses create new jobs. All these programs you plan on making will cost money. What cuts and what programs do you plan to cut in order to start reducing our debt?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I announced at the State of the Union, what we're going to be doing is freezing domestic discretionary spending for the next five years. Now, keep in mind that a freeze actually ends up being a cut, because the population's going up, you end up having some slight inflation, and when you combine both increased population -- [audio break] -- programs.

And --

GROVE: And what sorts of things -- what sorts of programs do you think are going to get cut?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, we're going to be announcing our budget, so I don't want to give too much details, because then nobody pays attention when we actually put the numbers out. But they're going to be programs like community action grants, for example, that really help cities and local communities to spur economic development, but you know, frankly we're just going to have to trim some of these programs.

And these are not going to be across the board. We want to cut with a scalpel, as opposed to a chain saw.

There are going to be some areas where we actually increase spending. Education is one. Research and development and innovation. We need to make sure that we're staying on the cutting edge of new technologies. But we're going to have to make some serious decisions.

I can tell you that the budget is going to end up saving $400 billion or so. And it will mean that domestic discretionary spending goes down to the lowest level since Dwight Eisenhower, since -- lower -- lowest level -- the lowest level since I was born, certainly since you were born.

GROVE: [chuckles]


GROVE: Well, you mentioned education as an area that would not get cut. Let's go to the category of education. This question comes from a charter school in -- [inaudible].

Q: [inaudible] -- you said that many of the social and economic disparities that exist in the African-American community can be -- and I quote -- "directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow."

Q: How do you plan on addressing these social and economic disparities that currently exist in minority communities? In particular, what is your plan to close the pervasive achievement gap in education for American minorities today?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the first thing that we've got to remember -- and I said this at the State of the Union -- is that nothing government does replaces the importance of parents in education. And so all of us, regardless of our station, our race, where -- what region of the country we're coming from, if we're parents, we've got to step up our game in working with our kids to learn -- reading to them, turning off the TV, making sure they're doing their homework.

You know, building a culture around the love of learning is critical.

But our schools have a special role to play, obviously. And the single most important thing that we can do in closing the achievement gap is making sure that we've got good teachers in the classroom that are setting high expectations for our kids. And, you know, one of the challenges we have is a lot of times in poorer neighborhoods, higher minority student populations, oftentimes the teachers don't have as much experience in the subject matter that they're teaching. You know, in a lot of communities we need to provide more incentives for the best teachers to teach in the hardest-to-teach schools, as opposed to a lot of times their impulse, particularly if they have seniority, is to go to suburban schools or --

GROVE: Yeah, of course.

THE PRESIDENT: -- in wealthier communities, where the kids are better prepared. And that's understandable, but we've got to put a special focus on making sure that those schools that really need help are getting the best possible resources.

One of the things we're doing with what's called Race to the Top, the program that Secretary Duncan and myself have been promoting, is we're saying to states, you get some additional money if you've got a real good game plan for those lowest-performing schools, and we don't want any child out there not having the best possible chance at succeeding.

And one of the reasons it's so important to close the achievement gap is, the population is going to be increasingly Hispanic, increasingly African-American -- those are fast-growing populations -- increasingly Asian, and so if we're not doing a great job educating those kids and closing some of those achievement gaps, we're going to have problems as a country.

GROVE: Right. You mentioned Race to the Top.

And a lot of people wrote in about Race to the Top --


GROVE: -- wondering what's going to happen this year. Political environment's a little bit different. Padma from Jericho, New York, wrote: Mr. President, where are you going to get the money to fund Race to the Top? And how do you expect schools with depleted resources to actually compete for this funding?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, keep in mind, Race to the Top only costs 1 percent of what we spend overall on education.

GROVE: Right.

THE PRESIDENT: That's the wonderful thing about the program is schools are still getting general support that's formula-based, meaning that each state, depending on its population and the number of children it has that are in low-income categories, are getting a certain amount of federal money.

All we're saying is, let's carve out a little bit of this money and create a contest among states saying, if you've got the best plan to improve teacher quality, make sure that you're setting high performance, if you're setting up a way of tracking whether or not the kids are doing well -- if you do that, then we'll give you a little bit of extra. And --

GROVE: Is that contest going to have money this year to -- as Padma asked?

THE PRESIDENT: It certainly will be in my budget. And I think that given we've had 40 states that have reformed their school systems just because of Race to the Top, and it's got widespread support from both Democrats and Republicans, I see no reason why we shouldn't be able to get it done again this year.

GROVE: Mr. President, this is the Internet. And on the Internet, people love to have a more personal relationship with their elected officials. So let's move into sort of a YouTube rapid round.

THE PRESIDENT: [chuckles]

GROVE: We'll call it "Get to Know Your President."


GROVE: Let me flip through it here. There we go. These are some personal questions people submitted. First one -- maybe just one or two sentences on each if you can --


GROVE: -- what's the best part about being a president, and what's the worst part?

THE PRESIDENT: Best part of being president is every once in a while, you do something that you know has a direct impact on somebody. So when we passed health care and I met a woman who was not going to lose her house because she was able to get her cancer treatments, and she comes up and says thank you; nothing's more satisfying than that.

Toughest thing about being president is the bubble. I can't go for a walk. I can't go to the corner coffee shop.

GROVE: Right. Right.

THE PRESIDENT: I can't leave the house and not shave and, you know, have my sweats on.

GROVE: Right. the president.

THE PRESIDENT: Right. Because -- so -- so that is something that I don't think I'll ever get used to.

GROVE: Next question. Mr. President, what was your favorite class in college?

THE PRESIDENT: Favorite class in college? I had a wonderful political science class. I still remember the name of the professor: Roger Boesche at Occidental College.

GROVE: Mm-hmm.

THE PRESIDENT: And it sparked my general interest in politics. And he still teaches there and was just a wonderful, wonderful professor.

GROVE: [inaudible] Let's move to a critical question this week, over the next few weeks. Mr. President, who's winning the Super Bowl, Pittsburgh or Green Bay? This user, DCGARN, picks the Packers 31-28. I'm sure you're still stinging from the loss the other night, but who do you pick to win?

THE PRESIDENT: Now that the Bears have lost, I've got to stay neutral.

GROVE: Yeah.

THE PRESIDENT: I already took a hard time from Charles Woodson. I don't know if you saw -- this is on YouTube -- is his speech after they won, where he says: The president doesn't want to see us in Dallas, then we're going to see him in the White House!

GROVE: [laughs]

THE PRESIDENT: Then they all said: One, two, three, White House!

GROVE: Really? That was their call? I didn't see.

THE PRESIDENT: And then -- that -- and so I just came back from Wisconsin. First thing I get as I get off the plane is a signed Woodson jersey: "See you in the White House."

GROVE: [laughs]

THE PRESIDENT: So -- no, Woodson's a great player and one of my favorite players in the NFL.

GROVE: [inaudible]


GROVE: But no picks?


GROVE: Okay.

THE PRESIDENT: I -- I'm going to -- I've to stay absolutely neutral on this one. And may the best team win.

GROVE: All righty. Next one. What are you getting Michelle for Valentine's Day?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I will tell you that the -- the more I'm campaigning, the more I'm president, each Valentine's Day seems to get more expensive.

GROVE: Oh, really. [laughs]

THE PRESIDENT: [laughs] I've got more to make up for.

GROVE: Uh-huh.

THE PRESIDENT: You know. Used to be I could just get away with flowers. Now --

GROVE: So something expensive.

THE PRESIDENT: [chuckles] Actually, the thing that she wants usually most of all is time.

GROVE: Yeah.

THE PRESIDENT: So we always try to get a date night out on Valentine's Day.

GROVE: Two more quick ones, and then we'll go back to some issue questions. The next one is, most people know you for your sports teams and all that kind of stuff, but who's your favorite mathematician or scientist?

THE PRESIDENT: You know, I will tell you that lately my favorite mathematicians and scientists are actually folks that are not very well known. I get a chance to meet them on a pretty regular basis through what's called PCAST. It's my -- the president's council on science and technology, essentially.

GROVE: Okay.

THE PRESIDENT: John Holdren, my chief science adviser, is the lead on it. But there -- there's a guy, for example, Eric Lander, out of Harvard, who's -- who's the chair, who's just a terrific mathematician, world-class mathematician, has done extraordinary work on genetics, helped on the Human Genome Project. But what I love about him is he's -- he can explain things in English. So people who are not as mathematically savvy as me can actually follow him.

But what's also great is he has this wonderful passion for translating highly theoretical science into very practical terms: You know, how does this help us solve problems in energy?

GROVE: Right.

THE PRESIDENT: How does this help us solve problems in -- when it comes to health care? How can we improve biotechnical research?

So I -- one of the things I love about being president is actually having access to math and science. And part of what we're trying to do in this White House is to really ramp up the emphasis on math and science, especially among kids. That's why we had the first science fair in quite some time here at the White House.

And we met some kids -- there was one young woman from Dallas, I think it was, who -- she was only a junior in high school and had won an international science contest creating a new cancer drug. She had taught herself chemistry between her freshman and sophomore years in high school because she was interested in it. Now you've got companies calling her up wanting to work with her. She hasn't graduated from high school yet.


THE PRESIDENT: So there's some serious brain power out there. We just have to tap it.

GROVE: Let's get to the last quick question here. A lot of people want to know what your favorite YouTube video is. Do you have a favorite YouTube video?

THE PRESIDENT: You know, I have to say that I don't have a favorite YouTube video. Usually what happens is Malia or Sasha will show me some YouTube video that they've -- that they've discovered, and --

GROVE: So you watch it with your kids?

THE PRESIDENT: I watch it with my kids. The main thing I use YouTube for, I have to confess, is highlights that I haven't seen --

GROVE: Sports stuff.

THE PRESIDENT: Sports stuff.

GROVE: Okay.

Well, let's play you a few YouTube videos, actually, that have come in from across the world, people actually documenting their experiences in relatively serious situations, in fact very serious situations. These are some clips just over the past year that citizens have taken from the scenes and protests documenting what's taking place. [showing video] You can see Tunisia and Thailand.

And of course most recently, Mr. President, over the past few days in Egypt, people have taken to the streets in Cairo and been filming their experiences. A lot of people wrote in -- see here from the streets in Cairo -- [showing video] -- wondering your reaction to the events that are taking place there.

Kam Hawi wrote in there, saying: Dear President Obama: Regarding the current situation in the Middle East and Egypt over the past two days, what do you think of the Egyptian government blocking social networks and preventing people from expressing their opinions?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me say first of all that, you know, Egypt's been an ally of ours on a lot of critical issues. They made peace with Israel. President Mubarak has been very helpful on a range of tough issues in the Middle East.

But I've always said to him that making sure that they are moving forward on reform -- political reform, economic reform -- is absolutely critical to the long-term well being of Egypt.

GROVE: Mm-hmm.

THE PRESIDENT: And you can see these pent-up frustrations that are being displayed on the streets. My main hope right now is, is that violence is not the answer in solving these problems in Egypt. So the government has to be careful about not resorting to violence, and the people on the streets have to be careful about not resorting to violence.

And I think that it is very important that people have mechanisms in order to express legitimate grievances. As I said in my State of the Union speech, there are certain core values that we believe in as Americans that we believe are universal: freedom of speech, freedom of expression, people being able to use social networking or any other mechanisms to communicate with each other and express their concerns. And that, I think, is no less true in the Arab world than it is here in the United States.

GROVE: Let's stay in the Middle East for a second, go from Egypt to Afghanistan. I'm going to play you two questions back to back about the way forward in Afghanistan.


Q: My name is -- [inaudible]. I'm from Brunswick, Ohio. And Mr. President, I have a friend in the military, and I was just wondering whether you're -- if you really feel that it is still important for our young men and women to be dying over in Iraq and Afghanistan.

GROVE: And just one more after this and then we'll -- I'm sorry, I actually need to push the button.

Here we go.

Q: Mr. President, disrupting, dismantling and defeating al-Qaida and preventing its capacity to threaten the United States and our allies in the future is how you have defined our objective in Afghanistan. How do preventative wars costing the lives of innocent civilians in countries that have not attacked us distance your foreign policy from the Bush Doctrine or disprove the assertion of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s that the United States is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, Dennis's question, I'm not sure I buy into the premise. Our work in Afghanistan is precisely because that's -- was the launching pad from which 9/11 happened and 3,000 Americans were killed. So we're not over there by accident.

Obviously, I disagreed with us going into Iraq, but I will say that we are bringing the war in Iraq to a honorable conclusion because of the extraordinary service of our men and women, both military and civilian in Iraq. We've still got work to do in this transition, but by the end of this year, we'll have all our troops out. And the Iraq -- the Iraqi people now have a government that they will be looking to for governance and development.

In Afghanistan, we have al-Qaida and its allies. We have them along the border region in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and it is my job as president to make sure that they can't launch another 9/11 against us.

Over the next couple of years, we are going to be transitioning so that we are bringing troops back. Afghans are taking a greater lead. The situation's not going to be perfect there, but what we have been able to do is to continually shrink the ability of al-Qaida to launch operations. And we expect to dismantle their operational capacity over the next several years.

And that is our goal, and we're going to keep on it.

GROVE: And maybe just real briefly, to Sheila, the mother of the soldier who wants to know --

THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I've said, we will be out of Afghanistan by the end of this year. I mean, we'll have a relationship with Iraq the same way we have relationships with many countries around the world, but --

GROVE: So out of Afghanistan is in --

THE PRESIDENT: But combat operations in Afghanistan have ended. And under the Strategic Framework Agreement that we signed with Iraq, we're not going to be having large contingents of troops there.

Afghanistan is a tougher situation, but what I've said is -- is that starting in July of this year, we're going to begin to phase down our troop levels. And we've agreed with our allies that by 2014 this is going to be an Afghan effort.

GROVE: Let's move to energy. You just got back from Wisconsin yesterday --


GROVE: -- where you were looking at some solar and wind plants. Here's Alexis from Florida.

Q: Dear Mr. President, in 2009 you said that you would reduce our dependence on foreign oil and -- [inaudible] -- renewable energy efforts. Well, since 1974, the seven presidents before you said the exact same thing, and yet still, here we are.

So what will you do different in order to remove us from foreign oil and put us on the path towards renewable and clean green energy?

THE PRESIDENT: This is why we've made such a big emphasis on this in my State of the Union speech, and I talked about it yesterday -- [audio break] -- as I said, part of it is just creating a market.

In every new technology, initially it's very expensive --

GROVE: Right.

THE PRESIDENT: -- because it's new and not enough people are buying it. And if you have to make it one at a time, then it's expensive.

But if you start being able to make a hundred thousand of them or 200,000 of them, then the unit costs of each one go down.

The same is true with clean energy. So what we've got to do is make sure that there is a market for entrepreneurs out there. And that's why something like a clean-energy standard is so important.

GROVE: You know, it wasn't one of our official categories, I'll be honest with you, but we got a lot of questions on drug policy.

THE PRESIDENT: [chuckles]

GROVE: And maybe even --

THE PRESIDENT: I think we did last year too.

GROVE: [chuckles] You know, there are a lot of folks online who want to know your thoughts on it. And I think with Prop 19 in California last fall, it's even more on people's minds.


GROVE: Here's the top-voted question in that area.

Q: Good evening, Mr. President. My name is McKenzie Allen. I'm a retired law enforcement officer and member of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. The so-called war on drugs has been waged for 40 years at a cost of a trillion dollars and thousands of lives, with nothing to show for it but increased supplies, cheaper drugs and a dramatic increase in violence associated with the underworld drug market.

Sir, do you think there will or should come a time for us to discuss the possibility of legalization, regulation and control of all drugs, thereby doing away with the violent criminal market as well as a major source of funding for international terrorism? Thank you so much for your time, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think this is an -- a entirely legitimate topic for debate. I am not in favor of legalization. I am a strong believer that we have to think more about drugs as a public health problem. When you think about other damaging activities in our society -- smoking, drunk driving, making sure you're wearing seatbelts -- you know, typically we've made huge strides over the last 20, 30 years by changing people's attitudes.

And on drugs, I think that a lot of times we have been so focused on arrests, incarceration, interdiction that we don't spend as much time thinking about how do we shrink demand.

And this is something that, you know, within the White House we are, you know, looking at very carefully. As I said --

GROVE: And that is?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the -- some of this requires shifting resources, being strategic; where does it make sense for us to really focus on interdiction? We have to go after drug cartels that not only are selling drugs but also creating havoc, for example, along the U.S.-Mexican border.

But are there ways that we can also shrink demand? You know, in some cities, for example, it may take six months for you to get into a drug treatment program.

GROVE: Right.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, if you're trying to kick a habit and somebody says to you, well, come back in six months, that's pretty discouraging. And so we've got to do more in figuring out how can we get some resources on that end of it and make sure that -- and also look at what we're doing when we have nonviolent first-time drug offenders; are there ways that we can make sure that we're steering them into the straight and narrow without automatically resorting to incarceration, drug courts, mechanisms like that?

So these are all issues that are worth exploring and worth of a -- worth a serious debate.

GROVE: I want to get a health care question in here. The number-one-voted health care question came from Noah, who asks: I have diabetes, and so my medicine is very expensive. Why does the same medication that I use cost so much less in Mexico or Canada, even though it's being made right here in the United States? We as a country need to fix this problem.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the main reason is, is that Canada, Mexico, their governments are both purchasers of these drugs, and so they negotiate much cheaper prices with the drug companies. We still don't do that. And I actually think it's something we should do.

It would save us money.

Now, the -- the drug companies, as part of health care reform last year, did agree to essentially put in more money for prescription drugs for seniors, make them cheaper. But they're probably not as cheap as they should be or could be. That was the subject of compromise through the legislative process. I think we could go further.

GROVE: So nothing in the health care plan will fix -- right now will fix this problem --

THE PRESIDENT: Well, actually, if -- depending on Noah's circumstances, if he's getting prescription drugs through the Medicare program, then our laws -- what we're doing is we're closing the doughnut hole, which is that portion of the law that said, at a certain point, you start paying full price for your drugs. So we are making prescription drugs cheaper for seniors, and we're going to be phasing out that doughnut hole over the next several years. So Noah may be helped if he's getting these drugs through Medicare. If he's getting them through a private insurer, then we've still got to do more work in the private health care plans to figure out how we can cheapen drugs, and it may be that importation is -- is still something that we -- we should look at in terms of further lowering the price of drugs.

GROVE: Another top-voted health care question had to do with something that I know your wife is very passionate about, and it's from Josh.

Q: My name is Josh Furtel. I live in Brooklyn, New York. Right now, we live in a country where it's cheaper to feed our kids Froot Loops than it is to feed them fruit. I'd like to know, what are you going to do to reverse that? [laughter]

THE PRESIDENT: [laughs] Well, the -- you know, the main thing I've done is I -- I have the first lady, who is just driving this -- this issue in an incredible way all across the country.

I don't know if you've read recently, for example, that she was able to negotiate something with Wal-Mart where, for the first time, they're going to start putting labels on their products --

GROVE: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

THE PRESIDENT: -- and also emphasize more healthy choices for their customers.

GROVE: What about cost, though? I think --

THE PRESIDENT: Well, what happens is, when Wal-Mart ends up saying, we're going to buy healthier stuff, then suddenly all the producers say, you know what, we better start producing healthier stuff. And that can make it cheaper.

The other thing that we're doing -- for example, Josh there was just eating an apple -- one of the things that we're trying to do is to encourage linkages between local supermarkets, local farmers, local producers to figure out how can we get fresh produce in communities that right now don't have access to press -- fresh produce. That's good for the farmer. It's good for retail stores in underserved communities. And ultimately, it's good for the consumer.

The child nutrition bill that we just passed is similarly working with schools to figure out how can we make sure that you're not just serving tater tots and pizza all day long.

GROVE: Right.

THE PRESIDENT: You know, are you able to get fresh fruits and vegetables into the school lunch program?

So all these things are geared towards making local produce, fresh produce, much more available and cheaper to every family and not just families who can afford to go into high-end supermarkets.

GROVE: Right.

The last issue category we haven't gotten to yet is immigration. And I want to show you this question. The audio is good. The video is a little janky, but I think you should be able to hear what Steven Li is saying right here.

Q: President Obama, my name is Steve Li, and I'm a DREAM Act activist currently studying to become a nurse at City College of San Francisco.

Last year, my house was raided by ICE, and I was incarcerated for two months in a detention center in Arizona, awaiting my deportation to Peru.

I was able return to my friends and family when Senator Feinstein agreed to introduce bill to stop my deportation to Peru. The Senate has failed to pass the DREAM Act because of partisan politics.

Mr. President, will you help us make sure that there is a moratorium to stop the deportation of innocent students who qualify for the DREAM Act? Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, Steve's an example of what I talked about at the State of the Union address. We've got incredibly talented young people who grow up as Americans, pledge allegiance to our flag and are now at risk of deportation not because of anything they did but because their parents brought them here as young children and they didn't have their legal papers.

And so I'm a strong supporter of the DREAM Act. The reason I spoke about it during the State of the Union is because I think we should still be able to get Democrats and Republicans to work together to solve this problem.

I want somebody like Steve to study to be a nurse and be able to contribute to our society.

GROVE: Are you hopeful this year that the DREAM Act can get passed or something like it?

THE PRESIDENT: I am hopeful that we should be able to get this thing passed, in part because in previous years we've had Republican and Democratic support for it. And this is one more problem that we can solve if we're not trying to score political points off each other but we're just looking at, you know, how do we create an environment where this is a country of laws and a country of immigrants. And we can reconcile those two values, but we're going to have to do it together.

GROVE: Let's move to our last question. This comes from Tom in Syracuse, New York.

Q: Mr. President, after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the young people in the nation were challenged with learning maths and sciences so that the country could compete.

What does America need from my generation to still be great when it's time to hand it to our kids?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I talked about winning the future. I think that's what every American wants to see.

Obviously, we're concerned about the immediate problems of unemployment, coming out of the recession. But -- but what we also want to feel confident about is that 10 years from now, 15 years from now, 20 years from now, America is still at the top when it comes to technology, when it comes to innovation, when it comes to a dynamic economy. And I'm absolutely convinced that we can do it. But in order to accomplish it, we're going to have to out-build, out-educate, out-innovate every other country. That's what we've always done.

We're -- we're going to have a government that is trimming its deficits, living within its means. It's got to be updated for the 21st century.

But the most important thing we have to do is to make sure that young people like Tom are getting the best education possible; that young engineers and scientists, they have the resources to -- to create new products and new technologies; that we've got an economy that's dynamic and rewards success, but also an economy that benefits from the best transportation systems, the best Internet systems, the best roads and bridges and airports. And -- and so, the -- the goal over the next couple of years is to make sure that, even as we're reducing our deficit, dealing with our debt, that we're still making some core investments that are going to prepare us for the future.

And I guess the last point I'd make, though, is, is that, as important as government is, what's most important is that this generation of Americans feel that same sense of confidence about the future that previous generations have felt, and that we're willing to work for that future the same -- same way the previous generations worked for that future.

You know, I want our kids to be understanding that to win the future, we're going to have to outwork folks. We're going to have to be disciplined. You know, math and science may not be subjects that come naturally to some kids, but you need to learn them if you want to succeed in this next century. You know, we need to reward engineers at least as much, if not more, than we're rewarding lawyers and investment bankers in this culture.

So, you know, we're going to have to up our game as individuals. Government can help. And what I've tried to do is to say here's how we can make some investments in our future that will unleash what I know is the inherent capabilities of the American people to create and innovate that's unmatched by any other country on Earth.

GROVE: I'm afraid we're out of time, Mr. President. Time often flies when you're watching YouTube videos.

But really appreciate you taking the time to bring the American people in here to the White House. There's an open and vibrant discussion on the Internet about the future of the country.

THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely.

GROVE: And for the chance for anybody across the country to just lean into a webcam or a video camera and have a chance for the president of the United States to answer their question, it's just a -- it's a great symbol of how open and accessible government can be. So thanks for making it happen.

THE PRESIDENT: Steve, I really enjoyed it. And I appreciate everybody who sent in their questions. They were all outstanding.

GROVE: Great. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Appreciate it.

All good?

Barack Obama, Interview With Steve Grove of YouTube Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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