Obama Fields Prostitution Question During Economic Town Hall

Legalizing prostitution will not be part of President Obama's jobs-creation strategy.

That was one emphatic statement that came out of the first stop on the president's multi-city jobs tour -- a stop marked by a few oddball moments.

Obama was at Lehigh Carbon Community College in Allentown, Pa., to field questions from the public about the economy, to reiterate his commitment to turning it around and to gloat a little about the new jobs data that showed the jobless rate has dipped to 10 percent.

But one questioner had an idea for Obama that was certainly outside the box of tax credits and infrastructure spending.

A man in the crowd, a sophomore at the college, asked the president if he would consider legalizing prostitution, marijuana and non-violent crimes as a remedy to boost the economy.

"I appreciate the boldness of your question," Obama replied. "That will not be my job strategy."

The president added: "Part of what you're supposed to do in college is question conventional wisdom."

Obama then took a question from Leonard Martin, another student who said he'd been trying to contact the Department of Veteran Affairs -- unsuccessfully -- to inquire about education benefits after having been discharged from the Army.

"This week I've called them several times asking questions about the GI bill...but I haven't gotten any benefits from them yet....

"When I call them, they're often busy and we get a message saying that we have to call back later on, so could you call them and ask?"

Obama replied by telling Martin, "we will get your name -- you know, you went straight to the top here....

"I suspect somebody will be calling you on your cell phone in two seconds."

The Post 9/11 Bill, to which Martin referred, helps to cover the cost of an undergraduate education at an in-state public college or university and many private schools for veterans who served in the military after Sept. 11.

A veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty service after 9/11 to qualify for the benefit. Veterans who served for 30 days and who were discharged due to injury or illness are also eligible.

"One of my commitments as president was we are going to whip the VA into shape," Obama said.