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State of the Union Speech is Just That – A Speech

January 26 – Nathan Dampf

Two nights ago, President Obama gave his fourth and final State of the Union Speech before he will be “re-judged” by voters. The president focused a great deal on the economy (jobs, the banking industry, housing markets, and energy).

Several times, throughout the address, President Obama discussed the country’s tax code. While targeting income taxation with his Warren “Buffett Rule” (“if you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes”), the president maintained his middle-class versus upper-class taxation rhetoric.

AIM President Ray McCarty notes the rule would tax the very businesses that AIM is working to help this year in Missouri’s Capitol.

“Many businesses are set up as S-Corporations and are therefore subject to individual income tax. AIM has proposed legislation this year to cut those businesses’ income tax in half so they can grow and reinvest their savings into the businesses and provide more jobs. Even though multi-billionaires like Warren Buffet are pushing for higher taxation, such policies would hurt small- and medium-sized businesses that provide good jobs throughout the country. President Obama should look at doing something similar to the Broad-Based Tax Relief Act that AIM proposed last week,” said McCarty.

The president went on to discuss several other domestic issues. Specifically, he discussed the opportunity for the United States to grow its manufacturing base. And while, the U.S. is increasing employment in the manufacturing sector, the president either only scratched the surface of necessary business reforms or failed to mention proposed policies that his administration is pushing that hinder business.

National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President Jay Timmons stated, “While the President highlighted an important aspect of any competitiveness strategy—ensuring Americans have the skills needed for the modern workforce—he ultimately failed to take advantage of the opportunity.” Timmons continued, “Instead of bold action, the President proposed tinkering around the edges. Many of the ideas he shared would be good for manufacturing, but they would not bring about a manufacturing renaissance.”

Timmons directed his comments toward the president’s energy development using shale and natural gas. “President Obama called for an ‘all-out, all-of-the-above’ strategy. That’s straight out of the NAM’s playbook. But absent from the speech was any explanation of why such a strategy shouldn’t include the energy supplies that this country could access via the Keystone XL pipeline.”

Just this past week, President Obama announced that his administration would not allow the Keystone XL pipeline to stretch from Canada to the United States, bringing a $7 billion investment throughout the country and providing an estimated 20,000 jobs and $5.2 billion in tax revenues to the states through which the pipeline would pass.

President Obama continued to discuss the comeback of manufacturing. “We have a huge opportunity, at this moment, to bring manufacturing back. But we have to seize it.”

If by “seizing it” he means “seizing it” through burdensome regulation and anti-business administrative rules, then that is exactly what his administration has done. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has already pursued anti-employer policies, including Snap Elections and a new workplace poster that tells a business’ employees that they have the right to unionize. Or, one can look at the EPA’s proposals to regulate greenhouse gases through three different MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) rules on boilers, cement plants, or utilities; and the Cross-State Pollutant Rule.

In his fourth State of the Union speech, the common phrase “you talk the talk, but can you walk the walk” comes to mind. The president’s oratory sounds great, but until anti-business policies are set aside to let businesses create jobs, the State of the Union speech is just a speech. The United States must enact pro-business taxation reform similar to AIM’s proposed “Broad-Based Tax Relief Act”. President Obama should also reconsider if he wants his NLRB appointments hindering business by proposing anti-employer “quickie” election rules and his EPA administrators issuing regulation upon regulation that will increase costs for American businesses.

I’ll finish with a line that the president intended to sound bipartisan. “I’m a Democrat. But I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed: That government should do for people what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more.” If the president truly believes Lincoln’s statement, he should also believe the best thing government can do for businesses is get out of their way.

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