Social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn have become the latest battleground over the jobs agenda as the president and Republican leaders each took to the Internet to defend their positions.
President Barack Obama spoke at a town-hall-style meeting Monday at LinkedIn, the professional social networking site. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., plans to join two other GOP leaders at a town hall at Facebook. The meetings hosted through the social media companies illustrate the key role social media will have in the upcoming election. They also shows the emphasis on the high-tech sector in growing the economy, according to CBS News.
Obama fielded questions at LinkedIn from many people who have lost their jobs. One individual asked what the president’s words of encouragement were for for people who were laid off.
“You’re going to be successful,” Obama said at the LinkedIn meeting as reported by a Forbes live blog. “The problem’s not you. The problem’s the economy as a whole.”
One questioner, a man who says he found success with a nearby start-up company, which he simply described as a “search engine” in Silicon Valley, inquired specifically about raising taxes for the rich. It turned out to be Doug Edwards, author of the book “I’m Feeling Lucky — Confessions of Google Employee No. 59,” according to the Mercury News.
“Will you please raise my taxes?” Edwards said. “I would like everyone to have the country invest in things like Pell grants and job-training programs that made it possible for me to get to where I am.”
The president responded by referencing his own education, which was funded by scholarships.
He said he did not want to punish the rich but rather return tax rates to the level of the 1990s, according to KSBW, a California NBC affiliate.
Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, will hold an online “Facebook Live” event with Cantor, as well as House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., today at 4 p.m. MDT in Palo Alto, Calif. They previewed the event with a conversation on the Speaker’s Balcony at the U.S. Capital, according to Politico.
“If we can begin to create communities online that actually will help support the conversation and debate, really what we can do is increase the confidence that people actually can have in a representative government,” Cantor, who has more than 123,000 followers on his Facebook page, told Politico.
The three authors of “Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders” will discuss technology, innovation and growth during the meeting, according to USA Today.
The presence of both Democratic and Republican leaders in the Silicon Valley means a potential battle over digital supremacy.
Though the GOP leaders will discuss the role of social networking in transparency and communication in politics, tonight’s meeting through Facebook is more than just a display of the House GOP’s digital presence, McCarthy told the National Review. He said that the trio will also speak on Republican proposals to increase access to capital and reform regulations.
McCarthy acknowledges the president’s presence and welcomes it.
“I think it’ll be a great contrast,” McCarthy told Robert Costas of the National Review. “As Ronald Reagan said, fly your bold colors, no pastels. Let’s show the true difference between our policies and (Obama’s) policies.”