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Business Reacts to State of the Union

Feb 13, 2013

Business associations found much to comment upon in President Obama's State of the Union address. In general, the tone was positive. A roundup:

Business Roundtable, President John Engler statement, "BRT: SOTU Strikes Encouraging Notes on Jobs and Growth; Now It's Time for Action":

Growth and job creation should absolutely be national priorities. But saying so doesn’t make it so. What’s required is action in Washington to create a better business environment, and we need to stop lurching from crisis to crisis. If growth is really the goal, the President and Congress should start with actual budgets, legislation and debate.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce, President and CEO Tom Donohue, "U.S. Chamber’s Donohue Comments on the State of the Union Address":

The president’s return to a focus on jobs and growth is overdue and we welcome his call for immigration reform and trade expansion. The question is whether the totality of his agenda is designed to grow our economy or simply to grow the government. More spending, higher taxes, and massive federal rule-making will not put Americans back to work or stop the slide of middle-class incomes. To revive our economy, restore confidence, and put millions of unemployed Americans back to work, jobs and growth cannot be an occasional priority, it must be the top priority at all times.

National Association of Manufacturers, President and CEO Jay Timmons, "State of Our Union Can Be Strengthened Through Manufacturers’ Growth Agenda":

Americans have been waiting for years for a real, sustained recovery. Manufacturers have been doing their part despite policies that stand directly in the way of growth. Previous State of the Union addresses provided strong rhetorical support. Now it’s time for the President and Congress to act and implement the Growth Agenda that manufacturers have laid out. If he does so, we will not simply be talking about recovery—we will be living it.

National Retail Federation, President and CEO Matthew Shay, "Retailers Welcome Obama Jobs Push in State of the Union Address":

We need Washington to pass laws that boost job creation and to repeal laws and red tape that stand in the way. That means putting an end to uncertainty on fiscal policy that cripples consumer confidence and long-term business planning, adoption of tax reform that will make U.S. companies more competitive, removal of outdated restraints on trade, and a moratorium on mandates that drive up the cost of adding workers to the payroll.

The NRF also issued a statement criticizing the President's call for a $1.75 hourly increase in the minimum wage, saying, "Before we debate the federal minimum wage, we need a broad, comprehensive plan from Washington that encourages businesses to plan, invest and grow this economy. So far, all we have are interim steps and uncertainty, none of which inspire confidence or create an environment that leads to economic growth, investment and job security.”

American Petroleum Institute, President and CEO Jack Gerard, "API’s Gerard welcomes President Obama’s call for increased American oil and natural gas production":

Even with the aggressive expansion of renewable and alternative energy, oil and natural gas will continue to provide the majority of the energy necessary to heat our homes, run our businesses, and fuel our cars for decades to come. We’re going to need all sources of energy to fuel a growing economy.

Unfortunately, 83 percent of the land and offshore areas controlled by the federal government are still off-limits to oil and natural gas development. President Obama must follow through by implementing a national energy policy, lifting existing restrictions in support of responsible development of our vast energy resources, approving the Keystone XL pipeline, and standing up against unnecessary and burdensome regulations that chill economic growth.

From CNBC, an interview with Doug Oberhelman, chairman and CEO of Caterpillar, Inc., who heads BRT's International Engagement Committee and also chairs the National Association of Manufacturers.

The tax code here is 30 years old, it's a mess, it's not easy. Clear it out, lower the rate, broaden the base and watch the revenues flow. We've all said that for some time. I wouldn't stop there, because we've got the pull-through entities, Chapter S and those that pull through personal rates that need reform as well. If we really want growth, if really want business to come back and employ people and add more jobs we've got  to get some of these things cleared off the deck. And it's a great opportunity to do it this year.

Also from CNBC, Mark Bertolini, Aetna chairman, CEO and president, on the health care and entitlement portions of the SOTU: "I think actually it's a great admission by the President that health care costs are driving a major portion of our deficit. Some of the things he mentioned were appropriate -- about changing payment and chaging the way our entitlement programs work. I think those are all ideas, however, that have been on the table a long time. What does it take to get the words into action is the very first question I would have."


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