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State of the Union: Emphasis on Business, But U.S. Still Has Great Strides to Make

In the State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama focused on the business community to rev up the recovery. Major proposals included reducing the corporate tax rate, which has not been scaled back for 25 years, and simplifying individual income tax codes, which most effect small business earnings.

The President said the country is on track to double exports by 2014. His address also emphasized the need for the United States to make strides in innovation, education, and infrastructure. Other countries, notably China and India, are quickly growing or surpassing America in some of these areas.

The renewable and clean energy sectors will play an important role in Obama's plans for the country's future. The President urged for more federal investment in clean energy technology, as well as biomedical research and information technology. Obama suggested eliminating taxpayer subsidies to oil companies: "Instead of investing in yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrows," he said.

The President plans to fund these proposals by eliminating loophole taxes, eliminating unnecessary spending, and making government more efficient. These plans include a five-year federal domestic spending freeze. And although Obama agreed to a two-year extension of high-income tax cuts, he reversed course in the speech, saying, "If we truly care about our deficit, we simply cannot afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans," Obama said. "Before we take money away from our schools, or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break."

In a response to the address, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons said: "To unleash the power of innovation, we cannot continue to place costly, unnecessary burdens on businesses and put them on an uneven playing field with our global competitors. This stifles job creation and economic growth. We also cannot pick winners and losers and pit industry sectors against each other in order to achieve our goals. To enhance our competitiveness, businesses cannot continue to be faced with higher energy costs, higher taxes, and government overregulation."

NAM said in a statement that while the President's aggressiveness on improving American business competition is encouraging, a comprehensive, solid manufacturing strategy must also exist to drive the nation's economy forward. In its Manufacturing Strategy for Jobs and a Competitive America, NAM outlines factors that will make the United States an ideal global location for any business.

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