Before a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, President Barack Obama declared that the state of the union was "getting stronger" and nine months before the 2012 election, he outlined an economic recoery plan in which American businesses play a big role.
Obama noted that the country was headed in the right direction as he highlighted the 3 million jobs that have been created by businesses in the past 22 months, but that number, said the president, only represents the start of the return to normalcy, considering the fact that 8 million jobs were lost in the height of the recession. The State of the Union address, however, did not focus on the past; instead, it looked toward what is needed to build and ensure future economic success for the country.
"Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people," said Obama. "An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we're in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren't so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded."
In the speech that lasted just over an hour, Obama stated that a key component in continuing this economic success and realizing the above goal will come from in bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States, reforming the existing tax code, increasing the ability of businesses to do business with other countries and helping small businesses succeed in the future.
"The blueprint begins with American manufacturing," Obama said, noting the recent success of General Motors and the American auto industry as examples of what companies who invest in America can mean to businesses and the economy. According to Obama, the 160,000 jobs added by the auto industry is only one example of what can occur in other industries based in cities all around the country that were hit hard by the loss of manufacturing jobs.
"So we have a huge opportunity, at this moment, to bring manufacturing back, but we have to seize it," Obama said. "Tonight, my message to business leaders is simple: Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed."
According to the president, tax code reforms top the list of necessary efforts to aid companies who make a commitment to American manufacturing. These tax reformations would help cover expenses for companies that bring jobs back to the U.S., ensure all businesses pay a fair and equal tax rate and give bigger tax cuts to American manufacturers. The theme of equality, particularly in taxes, was one that was repeated at several points during the speech.
"My message is simple," said Obama. "It's time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America. Send me these tax reforms, and I'll sign them right away."
Additionally, small businesses got high praise from the president for their role in ensuring continued economic success. For this reason, helping small businesses was another main point of the president's address.
"Most new jobs are created in startups and small businesses," said Obama. "So let's pass an agenda that helps them succeed. Tear down regulations that prevent aspiring entrepreneurs from getting the financing to grow. Expand tax relief to small businesses that are raising wages and creating good jobs. Both parties agree on these ideas. So put them in a bill, and get it on my desk this year."
The reason for the urgency of this statement is due to the fact that many new opportunities for American businesses will soon open in new markets. Two years ago, Obama anticipated U.S. exportsto double within the next five years, but according to recent data, those projections are set to be broken ahead of the initial projections.
"We're also making it easier for American businesses to sell products all over the world," said Obama. "With the bipartisan trade agreements I signed into law, soon there will be millions of new customers for American goods in Panama, Colombia and South Korea. Soon, there will be new cars on the streets of Seoul imported from Detroit, and Toledo and Chicago. I will go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products. And I will not stand by when our competitors don't play by the rules."
The president's plan for continued economic success also emphasized the importance of continued training of American workers to fill the jobs, particularly high-skilled jobs, that the economy has and will have. In particular, the president highlighted an initiative that would give incentives to companies who hired veterans.
"Join me in a national commitment to train 2 million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job," said Obama. "I want to cut through the maze of confusing training programs, so that from now on, people have one program, one website and one place to go for all the information and help they need. It's time to turn our unemployment system into a reemployment system that puts people to work."