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YouTube creators Bethany Mota, GloZell Green and Hank Green interview President Obama about the top issues facing them and their audiences. Live on Thursday, Jan 22, 2015 at 5pm ET.

Hank Green: Mr.

Bethany Mota: Obama!

GloZell: You know, the President of the United States.

Bethany: My subscribers wanna know about education--

Hank: The lack of jobs for college graduates--

Bethany: The economy--

GloZell: Racial profiling, that's a good one--

Hank: Net neutrality--

Bethany: Unemployment--

GloZell: Peanut butter or jelly--

Hank: Hahahah!

GloZell: Finally, Mr. President--

Bethany: Who's your favorite YouTube creator?

(Intro finishes)

Steve Grove: Hello, everyone, my name is Steve Grove, and I'm the director of the News Lab at Google, and it is my pleasure to welcome you to a YouTube Interview with the President of the United States.  Mr. President, thanks for having us here today.

President Obama: Great to see you, Steve.  Thanks.

Steve: We're really excited for this interview today.  I should tell our viewers just what a YouTube Interview is.  We've invited three top YouTube Creators here to the White House today, we're in the East Room, and they have set up their own YouTube sets right here in the White House for a very special YouTube video with a very special guest, the President of the United States.  Now, they've been asking their millions of subscribers on YouTube what they should ask you in today's interview, none of those questions has the President seen before, and we've also been taking a look on Google at what Americans were searching for during your State of the Union Address.

So, Mr. President, this is data that we've collected anonymously across all of Google searches in America, top questions that people asked during your State of the Union speech included 'What is middle class income?', 'Why are gas prices dropping?', people also wanna know stuff like 'How much does the President make?' uh, 'When does his term end?', 'What does the Speaker of the House do?', see, these things were on peoples' minds as they watch your speech.  Next, we sort of backed up and looked at the issues.  So of all the issues you addressed during the speech, which issues were Googled most during your State of the Union?  College, #1, far and away, followed by taxes, housing, employment, education, finally, Mr. President, you might be curious, what was the most asked question on Google during the first ten minutes or so of your State of the Union?  It was: "How old is Obama?' 

President Obama: Hahah

Steve: You can see this huge spike as you begin your speech and then throughout, you know, people very curious about how old you are.  Go figure.  Well, let's get straight to the interview, we'll show you more Google trends throughout the conversation today, but let's get right to the questions.  I want to introduce you first to Hank Green of the Vlogbrothers.

President Obama: Hey, great to see you, Hank.

Hank: President Obama. 

President Obama: Thank you so much for having me.

Hank: Thanks a lot for doing this.

President Obama: It's cool. 

Hank: I don't really feel like I'm having you.  This is your house. 

President Obama: Well, it's the peoples' house.  This is uh, I'm actually leasing and, uh, my lease runs out in two years.

Hank: Oh, my.

President Obama: Hope to get my security deposit back. 

Hank: (laughs)  I think, I think you've treated it fairly well.

President Obama: It looks okay.

Hank: I'm only gonna get one shot at this, I don't think I'm gonna get a lot of chances to interview the President, so I'm going to jump right in. 

President Obama: Let's do it!

Hank: Start grilling you.  I watched the State of the Union, a lot of really interesting ideas there, um, I'm not the only person who's said this, a little worried that none of them are politically feasible, am I wrong?

President Obama: Well, first of all, there's some areas where I think we can get some Republican cooperation on infrastructure, for example, historically, that hasn't been a partisan issue.  Roads, bridges, now that we're in the 21st century, broadband lines into communities that don't have good access, making sure we've got first class power grids so that we're not leaking a lot of energy and we can produce more energy without causing more carbon pollution, so there's some areas where, I think, right away we can get some cooperation.  There's some areas where it's important for us to frame the debate and get the American people behind us because even if something doesn't happen immediately here in Washington, it starts having an impact throughout the country, a great example of that's the minimum wage.  I called for a rise in the minimum wage last year and Congress still hasn't passed it yet, but in the meantime we've got 17 states, we've got cities and others that are raising the minimum wage, and so it creates movements that ultimately, you know, change things in Washington as well.

Hank: So, you used the phrase 'middle class economics', which I think is an idea that we needed a phrase for.  But when I first told people I was gonna be able to come talk to you, a lot of them expressed that they felt like the government was never gonna have their interests at heart, because the government existed to protect the interests of corporations and businesses, and the thing that they use is like, the prime example of this, is taking former leaders of industry and putting them in positions where they're regulating the industries they used to be in charge of.  Is that a legitimate concern, and do you understand where those people are coming from?

President Obama: Yeah, you know, look, I understand peoples' skepticism and cynicism, on the other hand, think about a bunch of stuff the government does do.  I mean, since I've been in office, we've been able to take away money that was being siphoned off by banks in the student loan program and billions of dollars are now suddenly going directly to students to make it easier for them to finance their student loans.  You know, simple stuff that we often take for granted, like, social security or medicare for, in the case of many of your viewers, their grandparents, you know, that's a government program that helps a lot of people, and so, you know, what is true is that, too often, lobbyists and special interests are able to block efforts to make the system fair and to make it work better, but our history shows that when people get involved, when they get engaged, when they vote, that in fact, change happens.  It doesn't always happen 100%, and it doesn't always happen immediately, but it happens. 

Hank: So, we're gonna jump around a lot here, because I have a lot of topics.  It's--I don't have a lot of time--it's crazy that I have to do this (?~40:20)

President Obama: I understand, it's okay, I'm going to keep my answers as short as possible.

Hank: I appreciate you doing that. 

President Obama: Alright, I'll try to zip through it. 

Hank: Uh, so, I feel like whenever a new weapons technology is developed, we spend five or ten years sort of coming to understand the full implications of that new technology, and sometimes we look back at those initial years of its use as like we maybe misused or overused that technology.  Are you at all worried that your administration is gonna be seen as a time when drone strikes were a technology like we see as over or misused?

President Obama: Well, you know, basically drone technology came into its own right when I first came into office.  Um, we have tried to put a series of constraints on how it's used, but understand that our goal has always been how do we target very specific terrorists who are proven to be trying to kill us or, more frequently, kill innocent Muslims in their home countries, and how do we do that with as little damage to the surrounding communities and innocent people as possible.  You know, part of what is really tough for me as Commander in Chief is the fact that any kind of war is damaging, any kind of war results in casualties, and in fact, the sort of damage that may have taken place with a drone strike is always significantly less than if I ordered a raid into a village where a high value terrorist target was, so you take the bin Laden operation in Pakistan, for example, probably as successful and as effective operation as we could have imagined.  Well, uh, you know, there were some people killed in that operation, and the truth of the matter is that anytime we're going after terrorists who are embedded in communities, there are dangers there, but I think it's entirely legitimate to say that as new technologies develop, we have to make sure that we step back and say 'Do we have a legal framework and a set of controls on it?' because I think what people worry about is is that it's a little more antiseptic than when we send troops in, that it may seem as if there's no cost to it.  And we've tried to do that and I think there have been some lessons learned, and occasionally, there have been mistakes that have been made, and uh, you know, nobody agrees over that more than I do, but it's, it's something that we take very seriously and I would argue that today's technologies can enable us to defend ourselves causing less damage to those communities than in the past.

Hank: Um, sort of along those lines, there's a lot of bad things happening in the world, but I feel like none more so than the kind of generations long oppression and even genocide that's been happening in North Korea.  We recently, you know, implemented new sanctions against North Korea because of a cyber-attack against us, uh, and that was obviously a problematic cyber-attack, but no one was physically hurt.  Um, I was surprised to find that there were any sanctions that we could sanction that hadn't been sanctioned yet.  Like, like, how was there anything left um, I feel like as the strongest nation in the world, like, there--it feels wrong that there's--that such injustice could exist in the world.

President Obama: Well, look, North Korea is the most isolated, the most sanctioned, the most cut-off nation on Earth, and the kind of authoritarianism that exists there, you almost can't duplicate anywhere else, it's, it's brutal and it's oppressive and as a consequence, the country can't really even feed its own people.  There aren't that many sanctions left.  I mean, we keep on trying to ratchet it up a little bit higher.  Over time, you will see a regime like this collapse.  Our capacity to affect change in North Korea is somewhat limited because you've got a million person army, and they have nuclear technologies and missiles, that's all they spend their money on, essentially, is on their war machine, and we've got an ally of our South Korea right next door, that if there were a war, would be severely affected, so the answer's not gonna be a military solution.  We will keep on ratcheting the pressure, but part of what's happening is that the environment that we're speaking in today, the Internet, over time is gonna be penetrating that country and it is very hard to sustain that kind of brutal authoritarian regime in this modern world.  Information ends up seeping in over time and cha--bringing about change, and that's something that we are constantly looking for ways to accelerate. 

Hank: Um, so I, sometimes people think I do, but I don't smoke pot, and I, it just is not for me, I think that it's bad for my brain, I'm not into it but people think I do smoke pot, because I'm in favor of legalizing marijuana, um, and we're in a really weird place with marijuana right now, and it's illegal in some places but it's illegal everywhere, but in some places, it's kind of okay, but if the state thinks it's not okay, then let's throw those people in jail, I feel like it, you know, it leads to excessive incarceration among minorities, and in places where it's been legalized, everything's doing ok.  I--how do we move forward out of this legal grey area weirdness?

President Obama:  Well, uh, what you're seeing now is Colorado, Washington, through state referendum, they're experimenting with legal marijuana, the position of my administration has been that we still have federal laws that classify marijuana as, as an illegal substance, but uh, we're not gonna spend a lot of resources trying to turn back decisions that have been made on the state level on this issue.  Uh, my suspicion is that you're gonna see other states start looking at this.  What I am doing at the federal level is asking my Department of Justice just to examine generally how we are treating non-violent drug offenders, because I think you're right, uh, you know, what we had done is instead of focusing on treatment, the same way we focused, say, with tobacco or drunk driving or other problems where we treat it as a public health problem, we've treated this exclusively as a criminal problem, and I think that it's been counterproductive and it's been, you know, devastating in a lot of minority communities, um, it presents the possibility at least of unequal application in the law, and that has to be changed.  Now the good news is is that we're starting to get some interest among Republicans as well as Democrats in reforming the criminal justice system.  We've been able to initiate some changes administratively, and last year, you had the first time in 40 years where the crime rate and the incarceration rate went down at the same time.  Uh, I hope we can continue with those trends because they're just a smarter way of dealing with these issues. 

Hank: Well, um, we're almost out of time here, but I have brought a little something for you. 

President Obama: Whaddaya got?

Hank: Um, I'd like you to sign--so this is a picture of me holding a receipt from my pharmacy.  I have a chronic condition, um--

President Obama: That's a very fetching picture.

Hank: Well, thank you.  Uh, and it's expensive to manage, but before I had insurance, I could not take this medication.  It's about $1,100 a month, and that is a receipt showing it being $5 a month, um, so Obamacare has--

President Obama: Obamacare has worked, and that makes me feel good.

Hank: --worked for me, so thanks for that.

President Obama: Hank, you know, your story is the story of so many people around the country, you've been managing a chronic disease, so you, I think, are probably more attuned to the dangers of not having health insurance.

Hank: Yeah.

President Obama: A lot of young people who are your viewers, they don't have a chronic disease so they think, 'why do I need it?' until something happens, and I hope that you know, people are starting to become aware, now that we've got a year under our belt, overwhelming majorities of people are satisfied when they get coverage through Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, it typically costs less than your cellphone bill or your cable bill, it gives you peace of mind, uh, and you know, I want to encourage everybody who hasn't at least looked at it to go to, you know, as you know we had some bad hiccups initially in terms of the website, but now the website works really well.

Hank: It does.

President Obama: It's really fast and there's no wait, so everybody who's watching, you know, make sure that you try it out.

Hank: Keep watching the livestream, though, but then afterward, maybe go look at it.

President Obama: Heheheheh.  Alright, thanks Hank, I'm really proud of what you're doing and thanks to everybody who watches--all the great stuff that you're putting on--uh, on the web. 

Hank: Thank you very much.

President Obama: Appreciate you.

Hank: Thanks.

Steve: Mr. President, the next topic that we're going to cover is another angle on cyber security.

President Obama: Yeah.

Steve: We thought you'd be interested(?~15:37) to know that searches on Google for "cyber security" have really risen over the past couple years, to the point where now, more people are searching for "cyber security" than "national security" overall, so clearly a topic on a lot of people's minds.

President Obama: All right.

Steve: To tackle this topic and a lot of others, I want to introduce you to our next YouTube star, GloZell Green.

President Obama: Hey, GloZell.

GloZell: Hello!

President Obama: How are you?

GloZell: (?~15:57)

President Obama: Good to see you.

GloZell: Yay!(?~15:59)

President Obama: How you doing?

GloZell: Excellent!

President Obama: That's a nice painting.

GloZell: Thank you!

President Obama: Did you do that yourself? Is that a self-portrait?

GloZell: My husband did.

President Obama: Your husband?

GloZell: Yes.

President Obama: Aw, see that- he loves you, I can tell.

GloZell: Thank you.

President Obama: That's great. He's quite an artist.

GloZell: Yes. Thank you very much. All right. Let's get started. My social media reaches over five million fans.

President Obama: That's a lot of people.

GloZell: Yeah.

President Obama: You're a big star.(?~16:23)

GloZell: Thank you. Especially now, but feel like - I thought I was able to say whatever I wanted to say, whenever I wanted to say, however I want to say it, because it was mine, but then the Sony hacking thing happened, and it's like, why didn't the government help Sony feel protected and safe enough to release the film on time, because something like that, the fallout affects me?

President Obama: Well, look. Cyber security is a huge issue we've been working on since I came into office and in fairness, the administration before me probably was starting to work on it, although the changes in the media have happened so fast, and so much stuff is going online today that it becomes that much more important. The challenge we've got is that most of the Internet and the infrastructure that allows you to be posting on YouTube and people accessing your stuff, most of that stuff's in private hands. It's not in public hands, and so what we have to do is to work with private companies, telling them, "Here's what we're seeing. Here's how you can protect yourself. Here's how you should share information with other companies who start seeing hackers getting into their stuff" so that everybody can pool the information and we can all protect each other together, and it moves very fast because these hackers are - you don't have to have a lot of equipment in order to be able to do this hacking. In fact, the hacking gets Sony, which we believe was done by North Korea - it wasn't even that sophisticated, but it just goes to show how vulnerable we are, so, uh, we continue to do more with private industry, to share with them best practices, how they can protect themselves. It's sort of like (?~18:09)your own ATM machine or ATM card or your passcode - your passwords, your personal privacy. There's certain things you can do to make yourself more protected, so we're sharing that information with them, but what we're also asking congress is pass a law that would give us more tools to fight against this in the future, and I'm confident this is something that we can actually get some good bipartisan support for, so you're going to be all right. People are going to still be able to watch your show, I promise.

[GloZell laughs]

GloZell: Okay.

President Obama: Okay.


GloZell: I have three family members who are in the law enforcement-

President Obama: Uh-huh.

GloZell: -and my husband, who painted that, yes.

President Obama: Who painted that, yes.(?~18:44)

GloZell: He's retired from the air force.

President Obama: Well, we're grateful for his service. You tell him thank you.

GloZell: I will do that.

President Obama: Okay.

GloZell: However, he's mad at me right now-

President Obama: Uh-huh.

GloZell: -because I cut all the hoods off his hoodies.

[President Obama laughs]

President Obama: I understand.(?~18:59)

GloZell: I did. I did that, for real, to protect him-

President Obama: Yeah.(?~19:03)

GloZell: -because I'm afraid when he goes outside-

President Obama: Right.

GloZell: -that somebody might shoot and kill him, and it's not, like, regular folks. It's the po-po. I hope that this changes. How can we bridge the gap between black, African-American males and white cops?

President Obama: Well, first of all, we always have to just remind ourselves that the overwhelming majority of police officers, they are doing a really tough job and they're doing it well, and they're doing it professionally. What we also know is that there's still biases in our society, that it's split-second situations where people have to(?~19:40) make quick decisions, that studies have shown, African-American males are seen as more threatening, which puts them in more vulnerable positions.

GloZell: Yes.

President Obama: Young African-American males are typically seen as older than they are, and so a lot of the way to solve this is to improve training so people can be aware-

GloZell: Yes.

President Obama: -of their biases ahead of time, and when I was in the state legislature back in Illinois, for example, I passed a racial profiling bill. It essentially said, "How are we going to tackle this problem? Let's make sure we're keeping track of the race of everybody that was being stopped," and just by the small fix of keeping track, suddenly each cop, when they were about to make a traffic stop, they had to think, "Okay, am I stopping this person because I should be stopping them, or is some bias at work?" and just that kind of mindfulness about it ended up resulting in better data, better policing, more trust by the communities that are affected, and we can do some of that same stuff and use those same tools. I've put together a task force with police and community activists, including some of the young people who were actively involved in the Ferguson protests, to make sure that we come up with what are the best training practices, what are the best tools, more body cameras on police officers so that they know they're being watched-

GloZell: Yes.

President Obama: -and how (?~21:12)they're operating, and we're going to take some of those recommendations, and we're going to put federal muscle behind them to see if we can make sure that communities all across the country are implementing them.

GloZell: Thank you.

President Obama: There you go. Well, it'll be- it's something that I think everybody, not just African-Americans or Latinos, but everybody should be concerned about, because you get better policing when communities have confidence that the police are protecting and serving all people and not- and not in any way showing bias, and that's something that we should all have an interest in.

GloZell: Amen to that.

President Obama: There you go.

GloZell: Okay.

President Obama: Okay.

GloZell: I grew up in Florida-

President Obama: Yeah.

GloZell: -and I have a lot of friends, close friends, who are Cuban Americans-

President Obama: Right.

GloZell: -and I've heard the stories of their families escaping-

President Obama: Right.

GloZell: - and some of them didn't even make it-

President Obama: Right.

GloZell: -to come to the United States for a better life-

President Obama: Right.(?~22:03)

GloZell: -to get away from the Castros.

President Obama: Right.

GloZell: Okay. I mean, the guy who puts "dick" in "dictatorship"-

[President Obama laughs]

GloZell: -so I'm trying to understand, how do you justify dealing with the Castros?

President Obama: Well, here's what's happening. We've had the same policy since I was born, which was, we were going to have an embargo, we're going to cut off all contact, all communication, and nothing changed, and I've said this before: when you do something over and over again for fifty years and it doesn't work, it's time to try something new, and we started off initially by allowing more travel to Cuba by Cuban Americans to visit their family, sending more money back to their family members to help them back in Cuba. We've been doing that for the last four or so years, and it turns out it's been helpful to the people in Cuba. They have more contact with their family. It gives them more hope. Now, what we're saying is that by normalizing relations, we're going to be able to still put pressure on the Cuban government, but also what happens now is you've got more visitors to Cuba, you start getting telecommunications into Cuba, you start getting the Internet into Cuba, people's minds begin to change, there's more transparency about what's going on, and over time, what you're going to see gradually is a shift, because not everybody- not everybody in Cuba is able to escape to the United States, and the goal, ultimately, is to make sure that there's freedom in Cuba, not just for the folks who have left.

GloZell: This is dependent on the Supreme Court ruling, but do you think that same-sex marriage will be legalized in all of the United States during the time that you're in office, and what can you do to push that along?

President Obama: Well, we've done a lot to obviously push it along. I announced my belief that same-sex marriage should be legal, that people should be treated the same. We argued against, as an administration, before the Supreme Court, we argued against the Defense of Marriage Act that was treating married couples, same-sex couples differently in terms of federal benefits. The Supreme Court now is going to be taking on a case. My hope is that they go ahead and recognize what I think the majority of people in America now recognize, which is two people who love each other-

GloZell: Yes.

President Obama: -and are treating each other with respect and aren't bothering anybody else, why would the law treat them differently?

GloZell: Why?

President Obama: Why?

GloZell: I mean, why?

President Obama: There's no good reason, and so as a consequence, I think that I'm hopeful the Supreme Court comes to the right decision, but I will tell you, people's hearts have opened up on this issue. I think people know that treating folks unfairly, even if you disagree with their lifestyle choice-

GloZell: Exactly.

President Obama: -the fact of the matter is they're not bothering you. Let them live their lives and under the law, they should be treated equally and-

GloZell: Yes.

President Obama: -as far as me personally, just to see all the loving gay and lesbian couples that I know who are great parents-

GloZell: Yes.

President Obama: -and great partners-

GloZell: Mhmm.

President Obama: -the idea that we would not treat them like the brothers and sisters that they are, that doesn't make any sense.

GloZell: Yes. Thank you.

President Obama: You're welcome.

GloZell: Okay. You're almost done with me and-

[President Obama laughs]

GloZell: -and your time as president.

President Obama: Yeah.

GloZell: With the time left, what would you hope your legacy is?

President Obama: Well, we saved an economy that was on the brink of depression. We've created 11 million new jobs. We've doubled clean energy. We've reduced pollution. We've made sure that more young people can go to college. We have given, now, so far, 10 million people health insurance that didn't have it before. That's going to grow over time. We have ended two wars in a responsible way, but we still have challenges. Every day, I wake up and I ask myself in particular, how can I make sure that folks who are working hard can not just survive, but how can they thrive? How can they get ahead? And so, in the State of the Union that I just gave, we talked about how can we provide more help for young families with child care, a huge burden on a lot of people? How can we make sure that college is more affordable? And what I want to do is make sure that the first two years of community colleges are free so that young people can have confidence that if they go and try to get more skills, that they're not going to be paying through the nose in terms of a lifetime in debt. I want to make sure that we're doing more to raise the minimum wage and providing paid sick leave, so there's a lot of basic stuff that we can do that would ensure the economy goes strong, but, more importantly, that everybody benefits from a strong economy, and that's going to be my focus over the next two years and once I'm done, then I'll look back and I'll see what the legacy was, but hopefully, it will be one in which I'm making sure that everybody in this country can succeed.

GloZell: Okay, my mama said whenever you go to somebody's house, you have to give them something.

President Obama: Okay.(?~27:39)

GloZell: Don't come empty handed.

President Obama: Alright.

GloZell: So, I have green lipsticks, one for-

President Obama: Yes.

GloZell: -your first wife, I mean-

President Obama: My first wife?

GloZell: -I mean, I mean-

President Obama: Do you know something I don't?

GloZell: Oh.

[President Obama laughs]

GloZell: Oh, oh, for then first lady-

President Obama: One for the first lady-

GloZell: -and the first children. Oh, sorry.

President Obama: -and the first children. Oh, I'm teasing.

GloZell: Okay. Alright.

[President Obama laughs]

GloZell: Okay, I'm just going to keep these here.

President Obama: Okay. Let me just take a look at these, though.

GloZell: It's green.(?~28:01)

President Obama: They are very pretty. Yeah. I mean, that is impressive stuff, I'm-

GloZell: I'm so sorry.

President Obama: -going to- I'm going to see how it looks. I'm going to ask Michelle to try it on.

[GloZell laughs]

President Obama: -maybe tonight.

GloZell: Yeah. Oh, okay.

[President Obama laughs]

GloZell: Alright, thank you.

President Obama: Thank you so much.

GloZell: Yes. Thank you.

President Obama: You did get some green lipstick on my shirt

GloZell: (?~28:19)

President Obama: Alright. Thank you.


Steve: All right, Mr. President, so, the the next issue we're going to tackle is education, something you talked a lot about in your State of the Union.  You may be interested to know that traditionally when people were searching on Google for stuff around college, the number one question they asked was, "What should I bring with me to college?"  But in the past couple years, the number one question has become "How to pay for college?"  So, clearly a topic that a lot of people want to know more about.  And to tackle that question and many others, we have a very popular YouTube creator next, Miss Bethany Mota!

President Obama: All right.  Hey Bethany.

Bethany: Hello, Mr. President!

President Obama: How are you?

Bethany: Good, how are you?

President Obama: Good to see ya.

Bethany: Great to meet you!

President Obama: Thanks, thanks for-

Bethany: Welcome to my little setup.

President Obama: I know, it's- it's-

Bethany: I hope you like it, I decorated for you.

President Obama: Yeah, it's beautiful.

Bethany: Thank you!

President Obama: Now, who's- who's the baby over there?

Bethany: That is my niece.  These are all my-

President Obama: What's her name?

Bethany: Her name is Miranda.

President Obama: Tell Miranda I said hey.

Bethany: I will!

President Obama: Okay.

Bethany: All right, so, I'm very excited to hear your answers, so I'm just gonna dive into the questions.

President Obama: Let's go!

Bethany: So my first question for you is regarding education.

President Obama: Yes.

Bethany: I'm 19 years old, a lot of my friends are the same age as me, as well as my online audience.

President Obama: Right.

Bethany: And a lot of them are now going to college, or are already in college, so my question for you is, how can- what do you think is the best long term plan for making education as a whole more affordable for students?

President Obama: Well, a couple of things.  First of all, college remains the best investment you can make.  Uh, you know, if you want to do anything right now in this 21st century economy, you're gonna be measured by how much knowledge you have, and how adaptable you are to changing circumstances.  And college- it's not just that it gives you a particular skill, but it also teaches you how to learn, you know, for your whole life.

Bethany: Right.

President Obama: And uh, you know, so it's the key to the future.  One of the things that we've done is to make sure that, um, more young people have access to Pell grants, uh, more people have access to student loans that are lower interest rate, uh, now I've proposed to make community colleges free for the first two years, and that's a good option for a lot of young people.  You know, there are four-year colleges, but a lot of times you can go to a community college for your first two years and then transfer your credits and go to a four-year college but you've already gotten your first two years free, and we know that it's already working in places like Tennessee.  We wanna, uh, take that all across the country.  And then what we've done is we've also said once you get out, if you've got some debt, then we wanna be able to cap how much you pay back to 10% of your income, so that if you decide to become a teacher, or, uh, a social worker or some helping profession that doesn't pay a lot, you don't feel like, "well, I can't do that job because, you know, my debt burden's gonna be too high."  But the single most important thing, uh, for your viewers is, number one, you'll be able to figure out a way to pay for college.  But you gotta be a smart shopper.  Uh, you gotta know ahead of time, how much does this school cost?  If they tell you, "Well, we'll help you finance it, don't worry," you gotta understand, you're gonna be taking on some debt, and what is it gonna look like once you're finished?

Bethany: Right.

President Obama: Um, you should have, uh, you know, some sense of whether you can, uh, get in-state tuition, versus going to a school out-of-state, because there may be a big difference in terms of cost.  Um, and one of the things we're also doing is seeing if, uh, we can get more high schools to work with their local colleges so that while you're in high school you can start getting some college credits.  That may make it quicker for you to get, uh, your college degree, and, you know, the quicker you get your degree, the cheaper it's gonna be.

Bethany: That's awesome.

President Obama: Yeah.

Bethany: Thank you!  Uh, my next question I actually relate to on a very personal level, because when I was younger, I was cyberbullied, which affected me in a very big way.  So, I went online, and I basically spoke about my story, which then, a lot of my viewers online came to me and leaving comments and asking for tips and advice on, you know, how I dealt with it.  And obviously, you know, I can give them tips based off of my experience, but sometimes I feel like I reach a point where I just can't help them as much as I would truly love to, so my question for you is, how can we just prevent that?  Prevent bullying in schools and online.  'Cause it's something that happens on a daily basis.

President Obama: Well, I've gotta say, this is one area where I think your voice is more powerful than the President of the United States.  I- you know, 'cause peers are gonna have more influence than anybody.  Uh, and when they see young people like you, who are willing to speak out and say, "That's not right," and protect other people from, uh, you know, this kind of bullying, uh, cyberbullying, or any kind of bullying, um, that's what changes people's minds, that's what, uh, has an impact on them.  Suddenly it's like, "Oh, I guess it's not so cool for me to do that, because, you know, somebody I respect, or somebody who's like me is telling me, uh, you know, to act differently."  So we had a big conference here at the White House, uh, in order to prevent bullying.  And, you know, we had a whole bunch of organizations who came together, and they were, uh, in workshops, and looking at various ways of, uh, dealing with the issue.  But the really most powerful testimonies came from students and young people like you who had organized themselves-

Bethany: Right.

President Obama: -and were going from campus to campus, school to school, going online, and just explaining why, you know, that's, uh, that kind of bullying tactic, uh, is something we can guard against if- if everybody kind of speaks out against it, uh, and uses, uh, positive peer pressure to say, "That's just not acceptable."  So, you're already doing it!  Uh-

Bethany: Thank you!

President Obama: I think you got, uh, better advice than just about anybody about it, 'cause you experienced it, you felt it.

Bethany: Thank you so much.

President Obama: You bet.

Bethany: Um, so last April, Boko Haram kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls, and just last month, this actually happened again, and a lot of them are still missing.  So, what do you think we can do to raise awareness about this issue, and also just prevent it from happening again?

President Obama: Yeah, well, as people know- uh, may know or may not know, Boko Haram is, uh, a radical, violent, terrible extremist, uh, organization in Nigeria, and it kidnapped, uh, 200 young women, uh, and are- they're, in many cases, still being held, um, what we've tried to do is to help the Nigerian government to deal with the problem.  Um, the Nigerian government, uh, has not been as effective as it needs to be in not only finding the girls, but also in stopping this extremist organization from operating inside their territory.  Um, and so what we're trying to do is mobilize other countries to try to give the Nigerian government more resources- not just military equipment, but better intelligence, allowing them to track where these folks are, uh, and to try to stop them.  And, you know, it's hard, but I tell you, the more, uh, young people are engaged in issues like this, speak out, let their elected officials know that they care about it, the more attention that, uh, is paid to it, and ultimately, you know, that's how you solve these problems.  They're- look, there are a lot of really heartbreaking situations all around the world.  There are a lot of countries that are still struggling.  Uh, you know, during your lifetime, more people have come out of poverty, and more people have, uh, been able to feel more secure around the world than probably any time in human history, but there's still a lot of, you know, bad stuff going on out there.  And that's why it's so important for young people like you to educate, uh, yourselves about the issues and to speak out and get involved.  And over time, you know, we're not gonna solve every problem overnight, but, uh, we can have some positive impact.

Bethany: Yeah, I completely agree.  Uh, my next question for you- so, I was actually just in China, I travel a lot, and I connected to the Internet, and I couldn't help but notice, I couldn't access the apps and the websites that I do back home, and I just felt kind of isolated from, like, the online global community.

President Obama: Right.

Bethany: So, how can we make them a part of that?

President Obama: Well, you know, China and Russia and some other countries around the world that don't have a democratic government and don't have the same traditions of free speech, uh, and open Internet, uh, they have recognized, I think, that- that the Internet's so powerful that if people start being able to communicate, then they may begin to start criticizing the government, and then they may be able to mobilize, uh, opposition, and things that, uh, are unfair, or people who are being mistreated, uh, suddenly have a voice.  So they're trying to keep a lid on this.  And, you know, we consistently, uh, you know, wherever we go, insist that issues like free speech, uh, and free and open Internet, we think that that is, uh, part of who we are as a people, we think that that has value not just in America, but everywhere.  You know, we obviously can't make laws in China.  But what we can do is let them know, uh, and shine a spotlight on some of those practices, and indicate to them that, uh, you know, that any government that is afraid of its own people, and people just peacefully trying to speak out and voice their own opinions, is over the long term not gonna be as effective, and, uh, as long-lasting, as a government that, uh, trusts its people to be able to communicate, uh, freely.

Bethany: Got it.  Thank you so much.

President Obama: Yup.

Bethany: Um, so I'm gonna be honest with you.

President Obama: Yes.

Bethany: Before I came here to do this interview for YouTube, I never really followed politics that much.

President Obama: You're not, uh, you're not the only one.

[Bethany laughs]

Bethany: A lot of my online audience, and just the younger generation, don't seem as interested in it, and I personally think that we should be.  So, my question for you is, why should the younger generation be interested in politics, and why should it matter to them?

President Obama: Well basically, politics is just, how do we organize ourselves as a society?  Um, you know, how- how do we make decisions about how we're gonna live together?  So, young people care about how college is paid for?  Well, the truth of the matter is that the reason we even have colleges is that, at some point, there were politicians who said, "You know what, we should start colleges."  And, you know, dating back to Abraham Lincoln, who started something called the land-grant colleges, and he- he understood that government should invest in people being able to get an education and have the tools to succeed, well, you know, you guys are the ones who are gonna be using these colleges and universities.  And if they are not getting enough funding from government, and your tuition goes up, and you've got more debt, you're the ones affected.  So you better have a voice, and know what's going on, and who's making the decisions about that.

Bethany: You're right.

President Obama: Um, you know, if you care about, uh, an- an issue like, um, you know, making sure the, uh, gays and lesbians and, uh, transgendered persons are treated fairly, uh, well, laws on the books can make sure that they're not discriminated against.  But those laws only pass if politics, you know, uh, allows those laws to pass.  Um, you know, the environment.  You know, I'm a lot older than you, you're gonna be around longer than I am, and if the climate keeps on getting warmer, and we have more droughts, and more floods, and, uh, you know, the oceans, uh, start dying off, you know, it's gonna be you and your children who are, you know, dealing with that.  We can stop it.  But we can only stop it if we get together and we start using energy differently.  Um, and so, there's no decision in our lives, basically, that isn't touched in some way by, um, the laws that we have and, you know, we're really lucky that we live in a democracy where our voice matters.  But if we don't participate, it's sort of, you know, look- I'll bet you're- a bunch of your friends- here's some- it's as simple as this.  You decide you guys wanna go see a movie, and you got a group of friends.  Um, and, you know, somehow you gotta figure out which movie you're gonna go see, 'cause not everybody's gonna agree all the time.  You're gonna have to have a debate, you're gonna have to make an argument, and then eventually- so you're gonna have to compromise-

Bethany: Right.

President Obama: You know, otherwise, you guys aren't gonna be hanging out together too much.  Well, you know, the same is true for a country.  You know, we, uh, we've gotta make decisions about which direction we're gonna go in, what we're gonna be doing, uh, how we're gonna spend our money, how we're going to treat each other, and, uh, you don't wanna be the person who just says, "Okay, whatever.  Whatever you guys wanna do, I'll just do that."  That'd be- you wanna express your voice and your values, and what you care about.

Bethany: That's true.

President Obama: And, you know, that's what politics is.  It's not really that complicated.  It's just- it's something that people do all the time with their friends, and with their family, and you know, they negotiate, they compromise, they try to figure out how do we live together, and this is just done at a national level.  And, uh, some of the issues get pretty complicated.  But, usually the values are the same ones that you talk about all the time.  You know, how do you- how do we treat each other with kindness?  How do we look after one another?  How are we fair to each other?  You know, and, uh, you know, I think that young people usually have good instincts, but, uh, sometimes they just get turned off by all the noise and yelling on TV, and that's not how politics has to be.

Bethany: Thank you so much.

President Obama: All right.

Bethany: So, my audience had a lot of fun questions for you, so we're gonna do a quick lightning round.

President Obama: Okay!  Lightning round, okay.  Really quick.

Bethany: So I know you have a lot to do, obviously.

President Obama: Yes.

Bethany: But if you have any free time-

President Obama: Yeah.

Bethany: -what TV show or movies do you watch?

President Obama: You know, uh, I'm really big on sports.

Bethany: Mmm!

President Obama: So, the truth of the matter is that I'm mostly watching Sports Center.

Bethany: All right, all right!

President Obama: Uh, whenever I'm working out at the gym, if there's a basketball game or a football game on, I'm usually tuned in there.

Bethany: Nice.

President Obama: Yeah.

Bethany: Um, what did you want to be growing up?

President Obama: Uh, I wanted to be a bunch of different things.  Um, I wanted to be an architect for a long time.

Bethany: Wow, nice.

President Obama: Uh, and, you know, I suppose in the back of my mind at some point I thought playing in the NBA would be great, uh, being a basketball player, but that ended I think around the age of 13, when I realized I wasn't talented enough.

Bethany: Oh.

President Obama: It's okay.  The, uh, things worked out pretty good.

Bethany: I would say so.

President Obama: Yeah.

Bethany: I would definitely say so.

President Obama: Exactly.

Bethany: Um, and the last one is, if you had any superpower, what would it be?

President Obama: Um, any superpower... You know, I guess, like, the flying thing seems pretty cool.  Right?  Sort of zipping around.

Bethany: I would love it.  I would like to be invisible sometimes.

President Obama: As long as you could stay warm.  Um, the invisibility thing seems, like, a little sneaky to me.

Bethany: I think-

President Obama: You know, it's like, what are you gonna be doing with that?  You gonna be listening in on people's conversations?

[Bethany laughs]

President Obama: You know, I- so, the, uh, I guess the flying thing.  I- one time somebody asked me this and I gave a question- I gave an answer that my wife, Michelle, teased me, she thought this was really nerdy.

Bethany: Mmm.

President Obama: But it's okay.  I'll go ahead and tell you anyway.  I- I don't know if this is a superpower- I'd love to be able to speak any language.  I would love-

Bethany: That's actually amazing.

President Obama: -like, any, anybody I met, anywhere in the world, I could just talk in their language.  That, to me that would be really cool.

Bethany: I love that!

President Obama: Isn't that cool?

Bethany: I would love that too!

President Obama: But, I don't think-

Bethany: That's a good one.

President Obama: I don't think it would make a really good movie.  You know, it's not that exciting.

Bethany: It's a really good one, though.  I've never heard that one before.

President Obama: See?  All right, there you go.

Bethany: Actually, one more question for you.

President Obama: Yes?

Bethany: Can you take a selfie with me?

President Obama: Let's do it!

Bethany: All right!  GloZell, Hank!  Get in here!

President Obama: You guys are gonna get in here?  All right-

Bethany: Group selfie.

President Obama: All right, come on.

Bethany: Okay, ready?

President Obama: Everybody ready?  All right.  Oh, wait wait wait!

[Hank laughs]

Bethany: Wait, Hank, I can't really see you.

Hank: Oh, I'm in there.

Bethany: Got it!

President Obama: Okay, my knees are a little-

[GloZell laughs]

Steve: All right, Mr. President.  Thank you so much for this YouTube interview.  We had a lot of fun with you today.

President Obama: It was great.  No, no, thank you so much, and I'm so proud of what you guys are doing, because-

Bethany: Thank you.

President Obama: -this is-

GloZell: Thanks.

President Obama: -the power, you know, of what the Internet's all about, you know, you can create content, and there's not all these barriers to entry, and suddenly, you know, you get millions of people who are listening to you, and in a conversation with you.  Um, and it's a great treat for me, because, um, you know, more and more there are audiences that get turned off by the traditional, um, you know, news shows, or the traditional debates, and so for me to be able to reach, uh, your audiences, and just hopefully give a sense of, uh, that what we do here in Washington, uh, what government does, actually matters, it makes a difference in their lives, I hope it's been useful.  All right?

GloZell: Yes, thank you.

Bethany: Thank you so much.

President Obama: So good luck.

GloZell: Thank you.

President Obama: We're very proud of you.

Bethany: Thank you.

Steve: Thanks to all our viewers.  If you missed the first part of the interview or you want to watch it again just go to, thanks everybody, goodbye.

President Obama: Thanks.

[end screen]

Steve: Thanks, Mr. President.  That was a lot of fun.  Thanks a lot.

[audio fades to silence]