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Tracking the Top Questions on Obama's Online Townhall

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, March 26 2009

For the record, the top three questions by each sub-topic on today are listed below:

Education (465,858 votes on 13,737 questions from 28,425 people)
-"The Founding Fathers believed that there is no difference between a free society and an educated society. Our educational system, however, is woefully inadequate. How do you plan to restore education as a right and core cultural value in America?"
Takeok, Boston, MA (6153 pro, 1029 anti)
-"For students graduating from college and graduate school, many of us have obscene amounts of debt. Do you have any plans to help alleviate some of that debt, given the current state of the job market?"
Am, Chicago, IL (4719-1338)
-"Mr President What are you going to do about local public schools cutting enrichment programs (arts, science, PE) due to the budget issues? While we need to increase our education levels, yet we see less dollars for schools. Thanks Sunnyvale_mom"
sunnyvale_mom, Sunnyvale CA (3590-856)

Home Ownership (185,225 votes on 7,975 questions from 14,174 people)
-"President Obama: What benefits from the stimulus plan are there to those of us who are paying our mortgages, but living paycheck to paycheck?"
Heather, Maumee, OH (3661-353)
-"I'm hard working, always make my mortgage payment on time, and bought a house I knew I could afford. My ARM is adjusting, and I'm not eligible for any great program. Why haven't better loan options become available for the responsible middle class"
Marc L, Atlanta, GA (2088-378)
"Why do I have to be to the point of foreclosure to get any help with my mortgage? Why aren't you helping the people who want to PREVENT foreclosure?"
MistyLee, Providence, RI (1993-296)

Health Care Reform (385,294 votes on 12,650 questions from 23,694 people)
"Why can we not have a universal health care system like many European countries, where people are treated based on needs, rather than financial resources?"
richard, sd, ca (6421-888)
-"Why is marijuana still illegal? Cigarettes and alcohol are far more harmful, and with the taxes put on the legal distribution of marijuana the US could make millions"
Ben R, Washington, DC (5166-1242)
-"Are you going to make eliminating insurance companies ability to deny coverage based on "pre-existing conditions" a part of your health care reform policy? I'm afraid to go to the doctor, because what if I have a condition, but then lose my job?"
T.Kapanka, San Francisco, CA (4584-457)

Veterans (106,928 votes on 3,157 questions from 7,967 people)
-"The unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is higher than the national unemployment rate. Our veterans are a national treasure. How can you, the VA and I ensure our veterans are successfully transitioning into civilian life?"
Snead, Columbia, SC (1797-134)
-"Pro-military or not, our veterans deserve at least the basics: food, shelter, health care. How can we work together to ensure the basics for our veterans?"
JillF, Chicago, IL (1406-137)
-"Why can't veterans receive the same benefits as the Senate members and House members after service?"
KenHartley, Marysville, OH (1172-89)

Small Business (88,809 votes on 4,062 questions from 8,861 people)
-"what specifically can the federal govt do to lower the cost of providing quality health coverage for small business owners"
swish, ellwood city, pa (1745-199)
-"Do you have a strategy for assisting the small business, to help those struggling against the huge conglomerates to receive government help as the big corporations have received?"
Beth, Aztec, NM (1134-164)
-"how can small business get access to small business federal govt loans in this credit crunch"
swish, ellwood city, pa (998-159)

Auto Industry (71,937 votes on 3,169 questions from 7,814 people)
-"What steps are being taken to ensure that the auto industry uses the bailout money it gets responsibly, so that we don't end up in this same situation in a few years?"
J (1683-205)
-"With Washington's bailout, how will we insure that the U.S. car industry comes out creating innovation instead of gas guzzlers?"
TAG2102, Hollister, MO (1379-239)
-"Can we invest in public transit as a way to spur American industry instead of propping up an unsustainable way of life that makes us dependent on foreign oil?"
Rick Cole, Ventura, CA (1191-208)

Retirement Security (112,978 votes on 3,570 questions from 8,744 people)
"Will you require Congress to pay into social security like the rest of us?"
MelanieC, Cape Coral, FL (2362-188)
"I'm 19 years old and just beginning to see my earnings deducted for Social Security. Though retirement is a long while away, how can you guarantee that this program remains solvent?"
Nick Troiano, Washington, DC (1452-146)
"Since the "baby boomers" are coming of age and starting to collect benefits, how do you propose stabilizing Social Security?" (1325-91)
Peggy, Middletown, PA

Green Jobs and Energy (325,022 votes on 7,446 questions from 20,104 people)
-""Will you consider decriminalizing the recreational/medical use of marijuana(hemp) so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and a multi-billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?”"
Green Machine, Winchester,Va (7190-1699)
-"Has your administration given any serious thought to how legalizing marijuana could help solve the economic crisis? We could tax this green product and create an influx of cash while reducing violence created by the war of drugs & illegal trafficking"
Ashley, Brooklyn, NY (5262-1363)
-"Do you plan on giving any incentives to people who choose to update their homes with green energy sources, such as solar panels?"
Jess H, Potomac Falls, VA (4585-391)

Financial Stability (385,378 votes on 20,680 questions from 27,054 people)
-"Would you support the bill currently going through the California legislation to legalize and tax marijuana, boosting the economy and reducing drug cartel related violence?"
Anthony, Warrington, PA (5570-1518)
-"Has the administration given any thought to legalizing marijuana, as a cash crop to fuel the economy? Why not make available, regulate, and tax something that that about 10 million Americans use regularly and is less harmful than tobacco or alcohol."
Sarah, Atlanta, GA (4051-1272)
-"Growing up I have noticed many around me always talk about legalization of marijuana, and I always thought, why not put a tax stamp on it. If marijuana was legalized it could really change a lot of things. America had the same problem with Alcohol."
Peter McNamara, Minneapolis, MN (3389-1066)

Jobs (925,876 votes on 14,518 questions from 35,777 people)
-"What are your plans for the failing, "War on Drugs", thats sucking money from tax payers and putting non-violent people in prison longer than the violent criminals?"
Matt B, West Bend, WI (7487-1246)
-"As a student, who like so many others works full time and attends school full time, only to break even at the end of the month. What is the government doing to make higher education more affordable for lower and middle class families?"
James, Bloomington, Indiana (6896-1659)
-"President Obama, Do you plan on letting Science end the failed "War" on Marijuana for personal and medical use thus taking the strain of our prisons and police forces so that we no longer have to arrest over 800,000 non violent drug offenders?"
Phill, Georgetown,MA (5593-1315)

Budget (554,421 votes on 13,121 questions from 26,570 people)
-"With over 1 out of 30 Americans controlled by the penal system, why not legalize, control, and tax marijuana to change the failed war on drugs into a money making, money saving boost to the economy? Do we really need that many victimless criminals?"
Ryan Palmer, Dallas, TX (7924-1905)
-"Mr. Obama, Thank you for allowing us to ask our questions to you, unfiltered. What is your stance on legalizing marijuana federally, taxing it and regulating much like alcohol and tobacco? I believe that the Drug War has failed, and needs overhaul."
Brian, Minneapolis, MN (5778-1526)
-"I am not a marijuana user, but I do believe that making marijuana legal could provide some relief as to it could be heavily taxed and regulated. Legalization of marijuana will also be a detriment to the drug cartels in Latin America."
Ryan McLaughlin, Rindge, NH / Quakertown, PA (5321-1413)