we told you how New York Times op-ed contributor and author Thomas Friedman urged President Obama to take steps to help foster a new age of innovation and entrepreneurship. Well it seems that Obama may have received that message, as Wednesday night during his State of the Union address to Congress the president proposed a bill to help small businesses and entrepreneurs.Earlier this week
Perhaps Obama listened to Friedman, or maybe he saw the frenzied excitement that grows around new innovations like the iPad - either way, the president seems to have taken the first baby steps toward a more entrepreneurial culture in America.
In the first quarter of a speech that lasted nearly seventy minutes - due in no small part part to the customary and, at times, comically frequent applause breaks - Obama leveled his focus on small businesses, calling for a $30 billion bill to help them attain credit from banks.
"We should start where more new jobs do -- in small businesses," said Obama. "Companies that begin when an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream, or a worker decides it's time she became her own boss."
Obama also called for a tax credit which will go to small businesses that raise wages or hire more employees, along with with the reversal of taxes on small business investments. Instead of paying capital gains taxes, Obama proposed that small businesses should instead be given tax incentives for investing in things like new plants and equipment.
One idea that Obama did not mention which could bolster the nation's innovative spirit is the so-called "startup visa" which could bring foreign entrepreneurs to the U.S. and create jobs - a movement we wrote about earlier this month.
As is the custom when the president gives his yearly address to congress, the Republican party chooses a representative to deliver their formal response. This year's choice, Senator Bob McDonnell from Virginia, warned of growing government and increased spending, but agreed with the president that inspiring growth in small businesses is critical.
"We must enact policies that promote entrepreneurship and innovation so America can better compete with the world," McDonnell said. "What government should not do is pile on more taxation, regulation and litigation that kill jobs and hurt the middle class."
Embedded below is the White House video of Obama's speech. Skip ahead to 13:14 to hear the president's ideas for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Photos by New York Times photographer Doug Mills and White House photographer Pete Souza.
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