Small Businesses Weigh In: Obama's State of the Union Address


President Obama delivered his State of the Union Address this week, reiterating his commitment to raising taxes on those who make more than $1 million annually, and addressing the nation's staggering deficit. Small business advocates say Obama was too vague on the details of the plans he laid out, giving entrepreneurs too little to feel certain about in a volatile economic climate.

From hiring to health-care, here are issues some of the country’s small business owners say the president failed to tackle in this week's address.

Small Business Accounting, LLC Birmingham, Ala.

Jason Dillon, founder of the small business accounting firm, said that Obama gave a solid speech and seemed genuine about helping small business owners in the year to come. However, Dillon said he is not confident that the president will follow through, given his track record.

"The problem is that he has been saying this for three years and has not done anything substantial," he said. "Specifically, extensions for Bush-era tax cuts for two years, the payroll tax cut for one year, and the ‘Make Work Pay’ credit for a few years does nothing substantial to get our economy moving."

The one thing Dillon was hoping to gain from the speech, he didn't find—certainty.

"If legislation [were] passed to make the current tax rates permanent and he would back off his ‘tax the wealthiest’ mantra, and put a substantial plan in place to cut spending over the next decade, I believe our economy would take off."

Essco Corporation Indianapolis, Ind.

Doug Stemmler, partner at Essco Corporation, said this year he simply opted to tune out the president.

"I made a point not to watch," Stemmler said. "There is nothing beneficial about listening to a repeated laundry list of targeted plans for this or that segment of the economy."

Stemmler said he feels the government isn't capable of, nor should it be, micro-managing the economy. Obama's policies over the past three years have been a "huge failure," he said, citing Solyndra and Ener1, both of which operate out of Indiana, where Essco is also located.

"Big government should simply stay out of our way and take care of its own business," he said. "President Obama totally misses the mark."

Branches Professional Services Provider Harrisburg, Pa.

Co-founder Shawn Cochran's opinion comes from the fact that he not only runs a small business, but his company caters to small business owners, teaching them how to market themselves on the Web. He said he has little interest in hearing what Obama has to say in 2012, and is frustrated with the president's approach to small businesses in America.

"Small businesses are struggling for a hand up and not a hand out," Cochran said. “The last thing my clients want to hear about is a loan or getting more money to pay back to something that they feel is already broken. They want to compete like an athlete, they want to be the best in their region and if they succeed in that, they want to shoot for the moon and after that, the stars."

That point is lost on Obama, Cochran said, and the gamble entrepreneurs in America take to start up their companies is not recognized.

"We shake the dice everyday and we risk everything, everyday," he said. "Nothing is promised, but rewards of creating something from nothing have little to do with money in its genesis. It has everything to do with the American drive and dream and the DNA of what it is to be an individual in the greatest country on Earth."