By Janna Brancolini
Bay City News Service
President Obama is expanding upon his fiscal message this week by answering questions at a virtual town hall hosted live from Facebook's headquarters in Palo Alto on Wednesday.
The 1:45 p.m. event, which will stream on the White House's Facebook page, follows the theme of "Shared Responsibility and Shared Prosperity" that Obama laid out in remarks about the budget he delivered last Wednesday at George Washington University.
As of this morning, nearly 23,000 people had RSVPed to participate in the town hall online. The actual event with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will not be open to the public.
Last week, Obama said his fiscal plan would reduce the nation's deficit by a cumulative $4 trillion over 12 years, in part by cutting defense spending, reducing health care costs, and eliminating tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. The federal deficit was $1.3 trillion last year.
Obama said America doesn't have to choose between "a future of spiraling debt and one where we forfeit our investment in our people and our country."
The president said limiting itemized deductions for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans would reduce the deficit by $320 billion over 10 years. He refused to further extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy as long as he is president.
"I say that at a time when the tax burden on the wealthy is at its lowest level in half a century, the most fortunate among us can afford to pay a little more," Obama said. "I don't need another tax cut. Warren Buffett doesn't need another tax cut."
Two panels focused on women in technology and startups in America -- both of which will include opportunities for questions from the audience -- will be held after the president's remarks.
The entire event will be streamed at facebook.com/WhiteHouse.