Thereare burly men in dark suits and earpieces all over Facebook's Palo Alto headquarters today, as President Obama comes to the company to hold one of his Town Hall meetings.
This meeting, held with staff at Facebook and VIPs in attendance, has been entitled "Shared Responsibility and Shared Prosperity." Members of the public have been allowed to contribute questions, but not vote on which ones the president will answer. This is presumably to stop endless questions on drug legalisation that have been a feature of previous such meetings.
The president referenced Facebook as an American success story in his last State of the Union address and met Zuckerberg at an exclusive dinner for the heads of Silicon Valley earlier in the year. Co-founder of Facebook Chris Hughes is also a friend, after he ran Obama's social media campaign in the election that brought the President to power.
Of course, this isn't the only reason Obama's in town. Tonight he'll head into San Francisco for a fund-raising dinner, organised by Salesforce.com's chief executive Marc Bennioff. Sadly Sleuth won't be there - the price of a single seat is $38,500. Then it's off down to Los Angeles for another fund-raising bash tomorrow night.
The Town Hall is set to start at 1:30pm Pacific Time (9:30pm GMT) and Sleuth will be reporting it as it happens.
12:02pm Arrive after getting lost on the way. Turns out it wasn't too hard to find, just follow the satellite trucks. There's a huge media presence here.
12:05pm There's some anti-war demonstrators outside the main entrance - I recognised a couple of Code Pink protesters reminding Obama he has two and a half wars on his record. Everyone's being terribly polite however.
12:15pm I have press accreditation and, after a security wanding by a very large armed man, am let in.
The first thing to note is this is a small event. Press take up one side of the room, VIPs another and the rest are for Facebook staff.
12:35pm Oddly, considering the location, the Wi-Fi here is appallingly bad.
13:10pm The traditional request to silence the phones, since the event is about to begin.
13:25pm The VIP section is filling up. Publisher Tim O'Reilly is there, as well as San Francisco's former major Gavin Newsome, and MC Hammer. Are these the people too cheap to splurge on dinner tonight :)
13.35pm OK, we're hearing from Twitter that the president is running late.
13.37pm Just been extensively sniffed by a huge German Shepard dog. That's why they didn't check my rucksack on the way in.
13:54pm We're on. Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg welcomes Obama. She said been fortunate to work with him, the man with 19 million Facebook likes. Nancy Pelosi is also present, Newsom gets a shout-out, along with three US members of the House of Representatives.
13:56 Zuck takes the stage. Makes the case that Facebook is key to politics.
Zuck's just corpsed, saying he's very nervous.
13:58pm Enter Obama. Working the crowd like a pro. Huge applause.
He thanks Facebook for hosting, and says he's the only one in a jacket and tie here. He jokes that the first time he met Zuck he told him to take his jacket off, and has just suggested it again. It is very hot in here under the lights.
14:00 Facebook is all about connecting people Obama said. Democracy depends on an informed populace and Facebook means this isn't a one way conversation.
He says the times are more tumultuous than at any time in his lifetime. The worst recession since the Depression that we are now coming out of. There's also technical adjustments that need to be made. High unemployment is difficult.
Internationally there are generational challenges. Climate change can't be solved by one nation, and we don't have the institutions to do that.
But whenever we've faced challenges like this Obama said, we've always been able to adapt, change and get ahead of the curve. That's true today and Facebook is cutting edge. There isn't a problem we can't solve.
14:04pm Zuck gets the first question, and he asks about debt. What's going to get cut?
Obama responds that Clinton left the government with a surplus. Then we had ten years where we forgot what created the surplus. Had two wars not paid for, a huge prescription drug plan not paid for and we had a trillion dollar deficit annually, and massive interest payments. Then the recession started.
There is about $4tn of spending we need to cut. Obama proposes cutting around two trillion dollars in spending cuts and will get another trillion from reforms in the tax system to make people like Zuck pay more tax. We want to go back to the rates when Clinton was president. These will still allow us to spend on basic research, into education and energy. We can invest in next-generation wireless and broadband.
Still have problem with Medicare and Medicade. Obama wants reform - we spend more than anyone else on healthcare and we get poor results. Readmissions rate need to be cut - 80 per cent of problems come from 20 per cent of patients.
The Republicans don't want any new taxes, wanting 70 per cent cut in research into clean energy. They also want to make Medicare into a voucher that covers part of the cost and consumers carry the extra health costs. We need a basic social safety net.
14:15pm Next question is on the housing market.
House market is the biggest drag on the economy right now Obama says. A lot of people's homes are worth less than their debt. People who want to move can't sell, and people trying to buy face big problems. That said, there are some people who are better off renting he said.
The days where it was easy to buy a house with no money down are over. We need the housing market to recover, as people will have more confidence. It is getting better for buyers, but it's varied.
14:19pm Question from a Facebook employee, sitting next to someone in an Obama tshirt. Good video shot - coincidence?
14:20pm My first job on day one was dealing with the recession Obama says. We made sure we minimised the effects, making the biggest investment in infrastructure since the freeways (motorways) were built. When Obama came to office only two per cent of advanced battery technology came from the US- and such batteries are key for clean travel.
The economy is now growing, two million jobs created by the private sector. But we also need to tackle the deficit. Investors need to be reassured. We have to hit the accelerator but can't let the car slip backwards. If all we do is cut, with a machete instead of a scalpel, it will make the deficit worse.
14:24pm Question for the University of Florida on the DREAM act and immigration. Praises work of Sandberg for working on this at Facebook.
People who were born here to illegal immigrants and who were of good character, then why wouldn't we want to embrace them? Immigration is always complicated. We are both a nation of immigrants and a nation of walls, and the walls have been too high. Immigration makes us strong because ambitious people come here and that dynamism keeps us young and propels our progress.
We want to fix the whole system. Make legal immigration more efficient, which is of interest to Silicon Valley. If smart people come here why would we want to send them away? These are potential job generators. We want more Andy Groves here, we don't wanting the next Intel started in China. High skilled immigrants come here to study, let's make sure they can invest in America.
Also have unskilled workers who are living in the shadows, in agriculture, kitchens and helping to build America. But they are scared and feel locked out. They should pay a fine, learn English, but there should be a pathway for them to become legal. We will have to change the law but we can make it happen.
14:32pm Another Facebook employee question on the Republican budget plan.
Obama says Reupblican budget is radical, but not necessarily couragous. The Republicans want to change the social contract. I wasn't born wealthy, went to college on scholarships, Mum had to tak food stamps and my grandparents used Medicare.
The Republican budget cuts taxes for corporations and the wealthy and cut a quarter of the education budget among other things. You could call that bold, I call it short-sighted.
If you're a start-up company you can't get health insurance. If you have a pre-existing condition insurance companies won't take you. We want to cover everyone and make the system more effective. The government will save money and so will you.
14:40pm Question on education. Is an overhaul needed?
Zuck interdicts that the Race for the Top programme is the best thing the administration has done.
Obama said the argument was always the left saying we need more money, and the right saying we should blow up the system. People are recognising we need money and reform.
Race to the Top is simple. Most federal dollars are allocated to a formula based on your circumstances. We took one pre cent of total spending and made it dependent on reforming the system. Every school district could apply with a plan to develop their schools, with accountability and that you measured progress. Sort out drop-out factory schools. Over 40 states have initiated reforms, some of the biggest ever seen.
It all relies on good data, and we're starting to see real progress on the ground. Want a new law to reform schools by 2012. But government alone can't do them. When Silicon Valley complains about not having enough engineers then we need to change things.
Need to get more girls in science (huge cheer), more minorities and more new students all round. We need to make science cool, we want people to feel about the next clean energy source the way the last generation felt about the space race. We need to buckle down and get this done.
14:47pm Another Facebook question - debt and healthcare, how to reduce both.
I want to reduce costs Obama said. Take health IT. Heathcare is one of the few areas where a lot of stuff is done on paper. People are still using clipboards. The reason is because a large chunk of providers aren't automated.
The best healthcare is the Veteran's Administration because it's fully integrated and they can save costs that way. Obama describes the current situation as inefficient because there is no opportunity for efficiency. We want to change how people are reimbursed.
For example, if you cut hospital infections, then you can give bonuses. That saves money, but it takes time. We have a private sector system, so it's not something we can do overnight. But it will save everyone money.
14:54pm Final question - what would you do differently?
Obama says it's early days. Says sometimes he worries he doesn't explain things clearly enough. Healthcare was a huge battle. I do think that it was so complicated that at a certain people switched off. I've asked if we could have got it done faster. I'm not sure I could have - there's a reason it takes a hundred years.
In terms of what he needs to get done. Deficit control needs to happen, immigration is important, energy too. $4 a gallon gas hurts a lot of people. If you're driving 50 miles to work and you're stuck in an old beater that does eight MPG then gas prices are killing you. We need to invest in new approaches for energy. We need to invest in solar and wind, biofuels, converting the federal fleet to fuel efficient vehicles.
The treasury loses $4bn a year in subsides to oil companies. No-one's doing better than Exxon, except maybe Facebook. They don't need that money, so why not invest it in new energy.
You don't get cynical about our democracy. It is frustrating, and some of you feel it too. Just remember we have been through tougher times and we've always come out on top. We have best universities and workers, we are entrepreneurs. If we come together we can solve these problems, but I can't do it myself.
We've got a lot done since election day, we have made progress. So I hope everyone is prepared to double down and work to solve problems. Especially the young generation that needs to give a push. If you put the same effort into Facebook as you do with the country there's nothing we can't solve.
15:03pm Zuck gushes and gives Obama a Facebook hoody, which Obama describes as high fashion. Shakes a few hangs down far side of stage.
President exits stage right.
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