In Final State of the Union, President Obama Supports Economic Priorities

WASHINGTON — As part of President Obama’s final State of the Union address. SBA entrepreneurs Ronna Rice, CEO of Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey, Abdirahman Kahin, owner of Afro Deli, and Mark Davis of WDC Solar attended the speech.

“Under President Obama, our businesses have added 14.1 million jobs over the past 70 months and small businesses create 2 out of 3 net new private-sector jobs. Small business owners like Ronna, Abdirahman, and Mark reflect the entrepreneurial spirit embedded in America, spurring innovation and job creation, making a mark in communities and propelling the economy,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.

In his final State of the Union address, President Obama outlined a number of policies, successes and challenges over his two terms in office that affect cities and their residents. In a year where both President Obama and Vice President Biden spoke to city leaders at National League of Cities convenings about forming partnerships to achieve results, cities have successfully advocated for priorities that support America’s infrastructure, improve public safety and strengthen the economy.

“The resilience and success of America starts at home. Every day, city leaders are called on to act on issues that matter most to their citizens: public safety, infrastructure and the economy,” said National League of Cities President Melodee Colbert-Kean, council member and former mayor, Joplin, Mo. “Tonight in his State of the Union address, President Obama outlined a number of policies that are important to cities, from eradicating veteran homelessness to supporting the innovation that drives our economy. In the president’s final year, cities urge the Administration and Congress to work together to support city priorities.”

On Twitter, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted, “@POTUS called for Pre-K for All, in #SOTU. Proud moment for NYC. Our President has put it on front-burner where it belongs.”

“President Obama offered a stirring message tonight about the state of the union and how far we have come from the brink of economic collapse. Over the course of his Administration, he helped revive a staggering economy that fell victim to the neglect of the Bush Administration and its failure to address the economic crisis that escalated during its last year,” said United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard.

President Gerard acknowledged that only 35,000 manufacturing jobs were created last year which is far from achieving the President’s goal of creating 1 million manufacturing jobs before he leaves office. He said that nation’s failed trade policies continue to jeopardize manufacturing sector.

“Today’s trade policies are not the answer. They are the problem. The proposed Trans Pacific Partnership would further undermine America’s manufacturing base as it would fuel further offshoring and outsourcing. It’s time to chart a new course on trade,” said Gerard.

In contrast to Mr. Gerard, the NLC lauded President Obama’s support of workforce development and training programs that provide basic skills training that enable residents to compete in a changing job market.

Echoing that sentiment, Bronx/Queens Rep. Joseph Crowley added, “We need to put the American Dream back in reach for American families.”  “The Congress has a job to do, and I urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to join us in building a better, stronger America for everyone.”

Infrastructure

Last month, Congress passed the first long-term transportation bill in a decade. The bill restored certainty to a national surface transportation program that has been strung along by more than 35 stopgap extensions, and includes provisions that provide local decision-makers with greater access to federal transportation dollars. The NLC called on the Obama Administration to act as a champion for tax-exempt municipal bonds, the primary financing mechanism for state and local infrastructure projects.

Public Safety

Last week, President Obama issued executive orders to reduce gun violence, including expanding background checks for gun purchases. NLC has long called on federal policymakers to require background checks for every gun purchaser, regardless of where the gun is purchased. NLC reiterated its support for President Obama’s actions to expand gun background checks and enforcement to make communities safer from gun violence.

Striking a hopeful note was Bronx Congressman Eliot Engel who said in a statement, “As the President said tonight, we cannot reach our potential unless we fix our politics. That’s what the American people want. So let us in Congress set the tone of bipartisanship, and work together to ensure America’s best days are still ahead.”

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