Transcript of President Obama's Townhall
Introduction and Libia
President Barack Obama participated on March 28 in a unique townhall: "Noticias Univision Presenta:Es el momento – El Presidente, Los Hispanos y la Educación".
The president talked about various educational topics of interest to the Latino community. Here you can find everything that was said.
Transcript of the town hall
VO: And with you from Columbia Heights Educational Campus in Washington, D.C., (UTT) president of Univision Network.
CESAR CONDE: On behalf of the Univision family, I welcome you to the Capital. Thank you for being here with us in this national forum about Hispanics and education. Last week, the National Census Bureau confirmed that the number of Hispanics surpassed 50 million in the United States. That confirmed the Hispanic community is driving the growth of this country. And one out of five students in our schools is Hispanic. In other words, the education topic is not only a Hispanic topic, it's something that affects the whole country. The future of a country depends on the scholastic success of our community, but to overcome the challenge of dropout of the students will demand the participation of all, government, community, community organizations, private sector, parents and the students themselves. Today, they are all represented here. This forum is part of the commitment that Univision has with education of the Hispanic community. The main topic of our national campaign, Es El Momento. We are dedicated to connect Hispanic students with information of the resources we have so we can have more Hispanics that can finish college to talk about that, we have Noticiero Univision anchor and Al Punto host, Jorge Ramos. Thank you for being here with us.
MR. RAMOS: THANK YOU. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR HAVING ME. THANK YOU.
CESAR CONDE: And now I invite you to welcome our special guest, the President of the United States, Barack Obama. Hi, nice to see you, Mr. President. Thank you for being here with us. Mr. President, is it the right time to start our conversation? Welcome and thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you, thank you. Hey.
MR. RAMOS: WELL, THIS IS WHAT WE'RE GOING TO DO. THIS IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY. WE'RE GOING TO ASK THE PRESIDENT STRAIGHTFORWARD, WHAT HE THINKS. AND THE QUESTIONS AND THE THINGS THAT WE THINK ABOUT, [IN] VERY FEW COUNTRIES WE CAN DO THIS. I REALLY APPRECIATE THE FACT THAT YOU'RE HERE WITH US. WE HAVE RECEIVED QUESTIONS THROUGH UNIVISION.COM, THROUGH VIDEOS VIA OUR AFFILIATE STATIONS AND [YOU WATCH/LISTEN] THROUGH UNIVISION RADIO, UNIVISION.COM AND ON UNIVISION ON DEMAND.
MR. RAMOS: Mr. President, I have the first question. As a newscaster and as an anchor, I have to ask first. And I would like to ask something that everybody wants to know. I don't know if you can give us something about the speech you're going to give later on for us to listen to here at Univision. And we are going through a very difficult time. We're going through three different wars at the same time. I was looking at the education budget in the country and it amazes me that every dollar that is being spent on education we spend $10 for war and the Department of Defense. Do we need to change that? What would you do?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I just want to say, Jorge, it’s wonderful to be with Univision. It’s wonderful to be here at Bell Multicultural. (Applause.) You guys are doing outstanding work.
I also want to make a confession, and that is that although I took Spanish in high school, I'm receiving translation through this earpiece. (Laughter.) But for all the young people here, I want you guys to be studying hard because it is critical for all American students to have language skills. And I want everybody here to be working hard to make sure that you don't just speak one language, you speak a bunch of languages. That's a priority. (Applause.)
MR. RAMOS: Let’s talk about Libya.
THE PRESIDENT: Jorge, with respect to Libya, I am going to be addressing this issue tonight, and I’ve already discussed it on several occasions, including on your program.
Our involvement there is going to be limited both in time and in scope. But you’re absolutely right that we have a very large defense budget. Some of that is necessitated by the size of our country and the particular special role that we play around the globe. But what is true is that over the last 10 years, the defense budget was going up much more quickly than our education budget.
And we are only going to be as strong as we are here at home. If we are not strong here at home, if our economy is not growing, if our people are not getting jobs, if they are not succeeding, then we won’t be able to project military strength or any other kind of strength.
And that's why in my 2012 budget, even though we have all these obligations -- we’re still in Afghanistan; I have ended the war in Iraq, and we’ve pulled 100,000 troops out -- (applause) -- but we still have some commitments there -- despite all that, my proposed budget still increases education spending by 10 percent, including 4 percent for non-college-related expenses. But we also increased the Pell Grant program drastically so all these outstanding young people are going to have a better chance to go to college. (Applause.)
So the larger point you’re making I think is right that we have to constantly balance our security needs with understanding that if we’re not having a strong economy, a strong workforce and a well-educated workforce, then we’re not going to be successful over the long term.
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