Obama to hold online question session Thursday

WASHINGTON Tue Mar 24, 2009 7:54pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Tuesday encouraged Americans to submit their questions about the economy over the Internet and said he will answer some of them live on the White House Web site on Thursday.

"This is an experiment, but it's also an opportunity for me to look at a computer and get a snapshot of what Americans across the country care about," Obama said in a video message posted at www.whitehouse.gov.

The session will be a first for the White House, which has promised under Obama to use technology to make government more accountable.

Participants will be able to ask their own questions via text and video and vote for those they would like to see answered the most. Obama will answer some of the most popular questions on Thursday morning.

Obama's staff used a similar "community moderated" approach before he took office to compile a list of issues that Americans cared about the most. Topping that list was a request to legalize marijuana.

White House staff asked participants to be respectful of others' opinions and use inoffensive language.

Some of the questions submitted to Obama dealt with outsourcing, government bailouts of homeowners and the financial industry and the use of tax breaks in the stimulus package.

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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