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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

President Obama's Town Hall Meeting: Newseum, Washington DC

With the The National Bureau of Economic Research reporting America's recession ended in June 2009, President Obama refuted those claims on Tuesday during a town hall meeting at the Newseum in Washington.

"Even though economists may say that the recession officially ended last year, obviously for the millions of people who are still out of work, people who have seen their home values decline, people who are struggling to pay the bills day to day, it’s still very real for them," said the president.

The president came face-to-face with an American who couldn't have articulated that quote any better.

During the THM an AmVets CFO, who had been openly praised the president after he was elected, said she had grown "exhausted of defending" his administration.

"I’m exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for", asking Obama "is this my new reality?"

The audience member, a mother of two, said she still hadn't seen (or felt) the change she voted for.

"I have been told that I voted for a man who said he was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. I’m one of those people, and I’m waiting, sir. I’m waiting. I don't feel it yet. And I thought, while it wouldn’t be in great measure, I would feel it in some small measure."

The woman went on to say that the financial recession "has taken an enormous toll" on her family. My husband and I joked for years that we thought we were well beyond the hot dogs and beans era of our lives.

Watch the exchange below.

The president tried to show an audience member how his administration has helped the economy, noting that billions of dollars would go directly to students to obtain loans, grants and scholarships to go to college, and that students can remain on the parent's health insurance.

"So my goal here is not to try to convince you that everything is where it needs to be. It’s not", said Obama.

"That's why I ran for President. But what I am saying is, is that we’re moving in the right direction. And if we are able to keep our eye on our long-term goal, which is making sure that every family out there, if they’re middle class, that they can pay their bills, have the security of health insurance, retire with dignity and respect, send their kids to college; if they’re not yet in the middle class, that there are ladders there to get into the middle class, if people work hard and get an education to apply themselves - that's our goal. That's the America we believe in. And I think that we are on track to be able to do that."

The president spoke to helping small businesses and said he was not out to vilify small business owners.

"It is very important for us not to find ourselves in a position in which banks get too big to fail, and if they make bad decisions taxpayers have to bail them out or we let the entire economy collapse", Obama said.  That’s not a choice that I want any future President to have to make.  And we instituted those changes."

It was the third time president was interviewed at the Newseum. Most recently he was the guest on ABC’s "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on Jan. 10, 2009.

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