Small business prominent in State of the Union

OBAMA-SPEECH/President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address was peppered with references to small businesses and other Americans who he applauded for living the “American Dream.” Following is a roundup of excerpts from the speech where he mentions small business.

On progress:

“We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again. But we have never measured progress by these yardsticks alone. We measure progress by the success of our people. By the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer. By the prospects of a small business owner who dreams of turning a good idea into a thriving enterprise.”

On innovation and the future:

“No country has more successful companies, or grants more patents to inventors and entrepreneurs. We are home to the world’s best colleges and universities, where more students come to study than any other place on Earth… The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation. None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be, or where the new jobs will come from. Thirty years ago, we couldn’t know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution. What we can do – what America does better than anyone – is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It’s how we make a living. Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation.”

On improved Internet coverage:

“Within the next five years, we will make it possible for business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98 percent of all Americans. This isn’t just about a faster internet and fewer dropped calls. It’s about connecting every part of America to the digital age. It’s about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world.”

On healthcare reform:

“Now, I’ve heard rumors that a few of you have some concerns about the new healthcare law. So let me be the first to say that anything can be improved. If you have ideas about how to improve this law by making care better or more affordable, I am eager to work with you. We can start right now by correcting a flaw in the legislation that has placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses.

The state of small business

After spending most of his first year in office focused on Wall Street, President Obama tried to reconnect with disenchanted Main Street voters in his first State of the Union address.

Mentioning “small business” at least 13 times in his speech (get the full text here), the president unveiled a two-pronged attack to get America’s “true engine of job creation” back on its feet and hiring again. Obama pledged to redistribute $30 billion in repaid bailout money from big banks to smaller community banks “to give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat.” He also promised to eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment, to give┬átax breaks for small businesses who raise wages or hire more workers, and for those who invest in new plants and equipment.

Nydia Velazquez, the chairwoman of the House Committee on Small Business, said the president clarified the “central role small businesses play in our economy,” and added the tax initiatives “would spark growth by helping firms reinvest in their facilities.”