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Obama Talks Business

Last night, the president addressed the country in the annual State of the Union, in which he discussed innovation, jobs, and corporate taxes. Here's a look at the speech through an entrepreneurial lens.
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President Obama's speech last night focused on job growth, innovation, corporate taxes, and the global economy. But what does it mean for your business? Here's a recap of what people are saying about the president's State of the Union speech.

Innovation isn't cheap.  In an editorial published this morning, The New York Times noted its concerns over the president's apparent unwillingness to discuss how corporate taxes and personal taxes will improve the nation's deficit.  'Mr. Obama proposed to simplify both the corporate income tax and the personal income tax, but he did not call for raising other taxes,' the article said. 'Americans may not want to hear that taxes have to go up, but until Mr. Obama and other political leaders are willing to say so, credible deficit reduction will remain out of reach.' Sebastian Mallaby, a senior fellow for International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), noted that Obama's requests for 'public investments' also run counter to the goal of helping the country's deficit. 'The public investments he touts sound pleasingly growth-enhancing: education, research, and state-of-the-art infrastructure are indeed the ingredients of future dynamism,' he told CFR in an interview this morning.  'But these investments are obviously in tension with the goal of deficit reduction, and Obama appears far too hopeful that he can achieve both at the same time.'

It's a Darwinian world, so work harder! Obama's speech was a clarion call for a new focus on America's ability to compete around the world, contends William Astore in The Huffington Post. "Last night's State of the Union address boils down to one point: In a cutthroat world, America has lost its edge," he wrote. "His solution is not to rethink our belief in our greatness, but to rekindle our competitive fire: to rededicate ourselves to being Number One, irrespective of the cost to others." And when Obama talks about competitiveness, it resonates with business groups that had become suspicious of the president's sudden commitment to private industry after his efforts to reform Wall Street.

CEOs sound off on the speech. Business leaders remained skeptical of Obama's overtures to corporate America during his speech, telling The Wall Street Journal they wanted more details about his promise to lower the corporate tax rate and simplify the tax code. Among the critics: energy magnate T. Boone Pickens and Anthony Guzzi, CEO of the construction firm Emcor Group. They did note Obama's "change in tone" during the speech, which was punctuated by pro-business ideas.

The hot button issue: salmon? NPR's quest to engage their audience in two-way communication resulted in an interesting tag cloud of the State of the Union address. NPR asked readers to submit a single word that summed up their thoughts on Obama's latest speech. From the overall pool of participants came words such as 'salmon,' 'inspiring,' 'hopeful,' and 'education.' Wait...salmon? Seems that the president made a crack about how salmon is regulated by two separate departments, as an example of how bureaucratic resources are often wasted. Republicans and Independents recalled this fishy comment the most, as displayed in two other tag clouds broken down by party affiliation.

The dumbing down of America. In addition to talk of innovation, jobs and unity, President Obama focused on education—or the lack thereof.  Obama noted that in the next 10 years, most jobs will require candidates to have more than a high school degree.  "And yet," he added " as many as a quarter of our students aren't even finishing high school."  The U.S. now ranks 9th in the world when looking at the number of young people in college. Jenna Johnson, reporting for the Washington Post, notes that 'Obama asked Congress to support innovative research and called for an increase in the number of teachers who specialize in science, technology, engineering or math…but what does it all mean?'

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