WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Thursday that even government programs that work will face cuts as he looks for ways to bring down the nation's mounting deficits.
During an hour-long live interview on YouTube, Obama did not detail reductions in the spending plan he will roll out next month for the budget year that begins Oct. 1. But he did cite community action grants that support economic and development initiatives in cities as examples of good programs that probably will lose money.
Sticking to a theme in his State of the Union address Tuesday, Obama pledged to make responsible cuts and avoid moves that would hurt the economic recovery.
"These are not going to be across the board," Obama said. "We want to cut with a scalpel as opposed to a chain saw."
Paired with deficit-cutting action is his call for a new era of American competitiveness — and higher spending on education and innovation.
"There are going to be some areas where we're going to increase," Obama said online. "We need to make sure were staying on the cutting edge of technology."
The YouTube interview was part of the administration's effort to expand its social media outreach as the White House tries to rally Obama's base around his revamped economic message.
The president used an online video to supporters last week to preview the primetime speech. His communications director, Dan Pfeiffer, joined Twitter this week and took questions. Administration officials, including Education Secretary Arne Duncan and White House economist Austan Goolsbee, answered questions from the public on the Internet.
Obama's team relied on social media during the 2008 presidential campaign to connect directly with the public. With the White House increasingly focused on Obama's re-election bid in 2012, aides say their use of social media to increase.
"The president and the entire team will continue to look for avenues and opportunities to expand the use of those entities, again whether that be Twitter, whether that be YouTube or other aspects of social media," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
Obama also took questions live on YouTube last February, days after his first State of the Union address. In both cases, the public submitted questions online, then voted for their favorites, with YouTube deciding the ones to be asked. Some questions were read by the moderator sitting in front of the president; others came in the form of videos displayed on a TV.
As with Obama's first YouTube interview, the most common theme in Thursday's questions dealt with drug policy. People wanted to know what the president's stance was on legalizing marijuana use. The question actually posed to the president came from a police officer, who said too much money was being wasted fighting minor drug use.
Obama said he does not favor legalization but acknowledged that the government needs to do a better job of viewing drug use as a public health problem.
"We don't spend as much time on how do we shrink demand," he said.
He said Washington needs to go after cartels and limit the supply of drugs. He wants more resources for treatment programs and said the criminal justice system must deal with nonviolent first-time offenders in a way that "makes sure we are steering them to the straight and narrow."
Other topics in the interview covered the violence in Egypt, health care and immigration, as well as lighter questions on the Super Bowl, his favorite class in college and even Valentine's Day.
Obama joked that Valentine's Day has changed in recent years: "The more I'm campaigning, the more I'm president, each Valentine's Day seems to get more expensive. I've got more to make up for."
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