Obama uses Web to solicit questions from public

A Google application plays a role in passing questions along to the president

President Barack Obama plans to answer questions on Thursday that were submitted to the White House through Google Moderator.

On Monday, Obama posted a message on YouTube, which has received more than 10,000 hits to date, telling Americans that "we're going to take advantage of the Internet to bring all of you to the White House to talk about the economy."

The White House is using Google Moderator, an application that allows users to pose questions and vote on ones that they like.

There are 11 categories on the site including small business, veterans and health-care reform. Nearly 12,000 people had submitted questions and cast more than 420,000 votes by Wednesday.

"We're going to compile those questions and votes and then on Thursday I'll be giving you some answers myself," Obama said in his YouTube address. The administration will have a lot of work, though, as nearly 14,000 questions have been submitted so far.

Under the home ownership category the question with the most votes is: "What benefits from the stimulus plan are there to those of us who are paying our mortgages, but living paycheck to paycheck?"

A younger user from Washington, D.C., posed a question in the retirement security forum, "I'm 19 years old and just beginning to see my earnings deducted for Social Security. Though retirement is a long while away, how can you guarantee that this program remains solvent?"

Calling the project an "experiment" Obama said that "it's also an exciting opportunity for me to look at a computer and get a snapshot of what Americans across the country care about."

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Nick Barber

IDG News Service
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