Obama Hosts Cyber Town Hall

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I appreciate that. I guarantee you nurses were part of the health care summit, and they will be at the table in all these discussions. I’m biased toward nurses, I just like nurses — (laughter). When Michelle and I went in and Malia was being born, the OB/GYNE was a close friend of ours and so was much more attentive than the usual OB/GYNE might be. But the fact is, we only saw her for like 15 minutes. The rest of the time, it was nurses who were doing everything. When Sasha, our little precious pea — (laughter) — she got meningitis when she was three months old — very dangerous. The doctors did a terrific job, but, frankly, it was the nurses that were there with us when she had to get a spinal tap, and all sorts of things that were just bringing me to tears.

And we’ve got a problem in this country, which is we have a shortage of nurses — makes no sense, given this unemployment rate. But the reason is, is because the pay of nurses, the hours of nurses, the quality of life of nurses, the fact that nurse professors are even worse paid than the nurses themselves, so that you get these huge bottlenecks in terms of training as many nurses as we want.

All these issues are part of the inefficiency of the health care system that has to be fixed. And the more we’re emphasizing primary care, preventive care, wellness — all of which will save us money in the long term — the more that we can deploy nurses as the troops on the front lines in ultimately driving down some of these health care costs.

So I think it’s very important that nurses are a part of this process.

Here, we’ve got a mic. I’m hanging on to my mic. (Laughter.)

Q Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: I might not get it back. (Laughter.)

Q Sir, you’re the President, you always get it back. (Laughter.) Sir, I’m Tom Sawner. I’m a service-disabled veteran, small-business owner in Arlington, Virginia. My company, Educational Options, works with public schools. We serve more than 200,000 at-risk kids within public schools, providing online content, partnering with teachers, and I was honored to serve on your education platform committee.

THE PRESIDENT: Wonderful.

Q Today my question is, as a small-business owner, my company is still profitable. We’re still growing, we’re still hiring. The money that I make as a profit, I’m plowing right back in, and even the money that I pay to the bank for my business loans. Yet under current tax laws, all of that counts as income to me before I ever see a penny of it.

Sir, could you please help small businesses by allowing, some way, somehow, money we pay to the bank in principle to not count against our income, and put us in the “richest” before we ever seem a dime, and allow us to invest in this huge engine to drive economic recovery?

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