Obama’s address stresses innovation, jobs


By Ann Meyer

— In a State of the Union speech Tuesday evening that emphasized  the importance of innovation in job creation, President Barack Obama called on Americans to “think bigger” and try new ideas.

He introduced Michigan brothers Gary and Robert Allen in the audience, who “reinvented themselves” by starting a roofing company. “That’s what Americans have done for 200 years,” Obama said.

Obama emphasized global competitiveness and encouraged coalition-building for “freedom and justice and dignity.” Business issues were a significant focus, with Obama recommending a lower  corporate tax rate and the elimination of the so-called 1099 measure in the health care law that would require businesses to file additional paperwork starting in 2012 when they spend $600 or more on products. “When we find rules that (create) unnecessary burdens to business, we will fix them,” he said.

Focus on  the American dream

A recurring theme in the speech was the American dream. “We do big things. The idea of America endures. Our destiny remains our choice,” Obama said.

Reaction to the address from the bipartisan National Small Business Association was positive. “We applaud the president’s commitment to innovation and look forward to joint efforts ensuring the continued success of programs such as the Small Business Innovation Research program,” said Larry Nannis, chairman of the association, in a release.

“Small firms produce five times as many patents per revenue dollar as large companies and 20 times as many as universities,” said Nannis, who is also shareholder at Levine, Katz, Nannis and Solomon law firm.

Obama said the government should increase its investment in biomedical research, information technology and clean technology as a way “to create countless new jobs.”

Republican rebuttal

But in the Republican rebuttal, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) questioned the impact of government investment in business. Ryan said since Obama took office, he has signed into law spending increases of 25 percent, or 84 percent when stimulus funding is included.  “All of this new government spending was sold as `investment.’   Yet after two years, the unemployment rate remains above 9 percent and government has added over $3 trillion to our debt,” Ryan said.

Instead, “limited government and free enterprise” will create jobs, Ryan said.

During the address, Obama renewed his call for U.S. businesses to double the amount of exports they produce by 2014, suggesting more exports will bring more jobs.

But the push for more exports should be coupled with Free Trade Agreements, said  Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) in a statement.   Our spotlight on innovation must include trade agreements,” he said. The association supports Korea, Panama and Colombia  Free Trade Agreements.

Obama reiterated his commitment to Health Care Reform by saying, “What I’m not willing to do is go back to the day when insurance companies could deny someone coverage based on a preexisting condition.” But Obama also called for stronger medical malpractice reforms to reduce frivolous law suits.

This article made possible by a Chicago Innovation Awards sponsorship.

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