Courtesty of the AP, Tim Sloan pool photo
President Obama Addresses Ag and Rural issues in State Of Union Address
Washington--President Barrack Obama recognized that rural America is hurting in tonight's State of the Union address saying that "Small towns and rural communities have been hit especially hard" in the recession, yet there was no substantive solution offered in the address.
The President mentioned job creation more than 39 times saying that jobs must be the nation's number one priority in 2010. Mr. Obama also called for a new jobs bill stating that American businesses are the true engine of job creation and that the government must create the climate for businesses to expand. He then pledged the $30-billion bailout dollars that banks have paid back to small businesses along with tax credits for employers that hire or raise wages. Obama also called on eliminating all capital gains taxes on small businesses.
The President called on Congress to join the Administration in encouraging American energy innovation calling for new nuclear power plants and clean energy. He also mentioned opening offshore areas for oil and natural gas development. Obama asked Congress to invest in biofuels and clean coal along with new incentives for homegrown clean energy. He wants a bipartisan bill passed in the Senate supporting these energy initiatives.
A bright spot was Obama's declaration of doubling exports over the next five years, which he said would "support two million jobs." To achieve the goal, he said he is "launching a National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase their exports, and reform export controls consistent with national security."
A concern in the address for Ag producers came with a call for a three-year freeze in discretionary spending. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) said that would not include agriculture commodity programs because they are not discretionary but "mandatory spending, driven by a formula, not by appropriation," a point he touched upon with Nebraska journalist Chuck Haga earlier this week. But he said a freeze would probably affect conservation programs and, Haga writes, "possibly nutrition, rural development and other areas."
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson was in the chamber and watched the speech, he said that tighter budgets and addressing the deficit will turn the economy around. "Getting our out-of-control budget deficit under control must be our top priority, and it will require all Americans to participate, rather than criticizes the President’s proposal to freeze discretionary spending, I consider it an initial offer to Congress in what I hope will be a bipartisan dialogue that leads to real action. I fully expect the counter offer made by House Republicans to bring more robust ideas to the table as well, and I hope these include freezing discretionary spending across the board."