The President’s State of the Union Address: What They’re Saying Part II

Earlier today we brought you some of the initial reactions to the President's State of the Union Address.  The list of reactions has grown throughout the day, find more below from America's governors, mayors and experts from various fields covered in the President's speech:

Governors: What They’re Saying About the President’s State of the Union Address

Following President Obama’s second State of the Union address, here’s what Governors are saying:

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

“President Obama tonight outlined a strong, transformative and positive path for our nation. His State of the Union address underscored the need for austerity, innovative thinking and collaboration on both sides of the aisle.  Promoting private sector job growth through economic development and restrained government spending is the right tactic to put our country on the right track. As President Obama fully understands, New York and many other states are working hard to address multi-billion dollar deficits. I had the pleasure of meeting with President Obama last week at General Electric's facility in Schenectady, where he announced his new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. I applaud his foresight in recognizing that it takes a focused approach and a harnessing of private sector resources to fully open our economy to future development and progress. As a nation, all Americans must refocus their energies to create solutions for future generations. President Obama's leadership will continue to pave the way for our nation to thrive and prosper, and I look forward to working with him and our federal representatives to tackle the sizeable challenges facing New York State and our country.”

North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue

"The President tonight called for America to find a new focus on how we grow jobs and educate our children in a 21st century, global economy. Here in North Carolina, we have already embraced this way of thinking. Today we must not just welcome innovation, but incentivize it; we must not only encourage new industry clusters but actively grow them. In North Carolina, innovation and new industries are in green energy, military, aerospace and biotech. But we must not forget that our ability to truly carry out this kind of economic vision will hinge on how well we do one, single thing: educate our children. They are our future workforce, the thinkers and doers who will carry this state forward on the foundation we pour today. If we are to own the future, we must start with them."

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley

“President Obama’s focus tonight on increasing America’s global competitiveness is welcome news in states across our country, and to American businesses and families. Our nation is in a fight for its economic future and it is a fight in which every state has an important role to play to win the future. Democratic governors have been singularly focused on creating jobs, managing for results, and making the tough – but fiscally responsible decisions – to improve public education, make college more affordable, and spur innovation to help businesses create jobs.  Democratic governors support President Obama's results-oriented approach to reduce the deficit and invest in the right priorities to fuel innovation and move America forward by creating new jobs and new opportunities for America's families.  And Democratic governors will continue every day to make the tough choices to ensure that our states – and our nation – are poised for success in the new global economy. We look forward to working with President Obama and Congress to achieve this end.”  

Washington Governor Christine O. Gregoire:

“In tonight's State of the Union address, President Obama challenged every member of Congress and every American to keep America's place in the world through innovation, competition and education. The proposals he unveiled to create jobs and control spending echoed some of what we have done to solve the challenges in Washington's budget, like transforming government and tackling the programs that drive up costs year after year. The President is providing the strong leadership and bold direction that our economic recovery is demanding.  America's economic future lays with the jobs that will power innovative, new industry. The President's focus on the jobs of tomorrow bodes well for our state. As a global leader in - and major exporter of - technology, aerospace, life sciences, clean energy and other 21st Century industries, Washington state is well positioned to compete-and win-in the new, global economy. I was especially pleased at President Obama's call for Congress and all Americans to work together as our nation rebuilds its economy and forges a more prosperous future for our children and communities. Over the past few weeks, I have announced proposals that would reduce unemployment taxes for businesses, help more unemployed workers retrain for new careers and unify Washington's education system so there is more focus on students and less on bureaucracy. These initiatives will improve our state's competitiveness at home and abroad and offer families, workers and businesses a path to emerge stronger from this recession.”

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton

“It was a terrific speech.  Under President Obama’s leadership, our country is on its way to a new era in which we will lead the world into the 21st century through public-private partnerships in innovation, research, education and infrastructure.  My goal is for all of us in Minnesota to work together so that our state will once again lead our country into this new era.”

Delaware Governor Jack Markell

“While much of the speech was about innovation - making sure the nation has ready the tools for tomorrow - the challenges we face and the choices we make in this area are rooted in what's best from our past. Our nation's history as a leader in growth economies - defined in turns by agriculture, heavy industry and information technology - did not happen by accident. It required hundreds of thousands of people to make a conscious commitment to keep our nation ahead. The President affirmed that commitment tonight and is clearly leading us forward.”

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin

“The President’s speech was an important call for civility, innovation and bipartisan cooperation to move our nation forward. The President understands that to move our nation out of this recession and maintain our global leadership, we can and must be bold and do big things.  Here in Vermont, we are renewing our commitment to making our state competitive in a global economy through technology and innovation. The President’s emphasis on expanding broadband and improving our aging transportation infrastructure particularly resonates in our state.  I was also encouraged by the President’s willingness to be flexible on the implementation of the health care law and applaud his steadfast commitment to ensuring that we not turn the clock back on the progress we have made.  I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with the  White House on our shared agenda.”

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper

“If there was one word that stood out in the President’s speech tonight it was innovation. His emphasis on reform, responsibility and support for education was right on target. The President sounded themes that should resonate with Coloradans no matter what their political affiliation may be, including a call to make government more efficient, cutting red tape and unleashing the country’s entrepreneurial spirit. It was also encouraging to hear the President commend a Colorado school that embraced reform and created opportunity for its students. This kind of change isn’t Democrat or Republican – it’s change sparked by all communities coming together. We need more of that for the benefit of our Colorado and our nation.”

Mayors: What They’re Saying About the President’s State of the Union Address

Following President Obama’s second State of the Union address, here’s what Mayors are saying:

Burnsville, Minnesota Mayor Elizabeth Kautz, U.S. Conference of Mayors President

“The nation's mayors are pleased that President Obama spoke about unity and bipartisanship as we move forward to solve the challenges facing America and address this country's deteriorating infrastructure.  For years, The U.S. Conference of Mayors has pushed infrastructure modernization as a means of job creation and economic development. A multi-modal transportation system is critical to effectively moving the nation's goods and services and people -- 85% of whom live, work and travel in metropolitan areas -- through the nation's cities both large and small.  Last week, the mayors of the nation gathered in Washington, D.C. for the Conference of Mayors' Winter Meeting, where mayors met with President Obama and again shared the need to focus on jobs. The unemployment rate in our nation's cities continues to be our first priority as statistics show that one-third of the nation's 363 metro areas will still have an unemployment rate higher than 10 percent at the end of 2011.  "We know that the nation's recovery will be driven by the economic engines of the metropolitan areas, and without job growth in the metropolitan areas, there can be no sustained national recovery.   Mayors are pragmatic - we work for the good of all people we serve. As a national nonpartisan organization that represents mayors who get things done everyday in their own cities, we stand ready to work with the President and the Congress to bring Washington together to get things done on the national level. We also are working with business leaders to forge a national consensus in support of job creation and infrastructure investment.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Mayor Michael A. Nutter

"President Obama tonight put every nation in the global marketplace on notice – America is coming back stronger than ever. The President’s playbook underscores that our contest is not a partisan battle between red and blue. No, it’s about propelling the USA into a prosperous future based on critical investments in education, transportation and energy even as we’re creating a leaner, more focused Federal government working with American business to innovate and to build the real powerhouse of the 21st Century with dozens of job-rich hubs like the clean-energy campus at the Navy Yard, right here in Philadelphia."

Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory A. Booker

“Tonight the President of the United States put forth a compelling vision for our nation’s future. He spoke in sound pragmatic terms about how we can forge ahead and build a stronger more competitive American economy. Specifically, for us in Newark, we heard substantive hope for our community and residents. The President's emphasis on building up our infrastructure, aiding small businesses, investing in education and fueling research at universities and other institutions all speak to creating  a strong economy, increased growth and future jobs in our city and region. I am encouraged by his plans, inspired by his vision and more hopeful about our future. I look forward to working with our President to make real his vision and implement his bold plans.”

New Orleans, Louisiana Mayor Mitch Landrieu

“Last week, when I met with President Obama, he committed to create jobs by making smart investments in infrastructure, education, and innovation. Tonight, President Obama demonstrated that he clearly understands the needs of the American people and specifically those of us in cities across our country.  President Obama understands like I do that a leaner, more efficient government doesn’t mean cutting at any cost.  We cannot cut our way to excellence.  We must cut smart, reorganize, and invest for the future.  This is not only about creating better communities today but also for future generations.  Tonight, President Obama laid out a plan to win by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building the rest of the world.  No where is the battle for the future of America more evident than here in New Orleans—the most immediate laboratory for change and innovation in our country. With President Obama as a key partner, we are transforming our infrastructure, schools, housing and health care system, and in the process, we are creating a more robust economy.  I look forward to working with the President as we rebuild New Orleans and create a blue print for urban renewal across America.”

Columbia, South Carolina Mayor Steve Benjamin

“Tonight the President showed us once again that true leadership is focused on the next generation not the next election. He has dared us to think big and act boldly. He has challenged us to raise our expectations for our schools, our government and ourselves. He has asked us to make a difference.  Here in Columbia, we are ready to meet the President’s challenge for a new era of clean energy. We are ready to lead the way.  It’s time for us all to work together and win our future by investing in education, innovation and infrastructure. In his speech tonight, President Obama has shown us how.”

Flint, Michigan Mayor Dayne Walling

“As America faces some of its toughest challenges in its history, President Obama tonight restored our faith and hope in America and its future. He laid the ground work of how we will compete and win in the 21st Century through education and innovation.  As the Mayor of Flint, MI, I was delighted to hear the president highlight a Michigan small business that is helping our state and our country lead the way in alternative energy. I was encouraged by the president’s assertion that government will invest in this kind of innovation. The President laid out a solid plan for an economy driven by new skills and new ideas that will secure prosperity for ourselves and future generations of Americans, in our cities and all across our country.”

Newton, Massachusetts Mayor Setti Warren

"President Obama delivered a clear and strong message tonight. As a Mayor in these difficult economic times, I applaud the President's commitment to eliminating waste, embracing the use of technology to make government more efficient, and making smart investments in our future."

Jacksonville, Florida Mayor John Peyton

“Our country may be shouldering one of the most challenging economic times in its history; however, we continue to embrace and strive for the many opportunities that lie ahead.  I was pleased to hear President Obama plans to regain control of governmental spending and reduce our national deficit so as a country we can eliminate barriers to our success.” 

Youngstown, Ohio Mayor Jay Williams

“The President's State of the Union address was masterful in content, tone, and delivery.  I sense a renewed optimism and inspiration over the course of the next two years and I am eager to help advance the agenda that President Obama has laid out for this country.  The State of our Union is strong!”

Saint Paul, Minnesota Mayor Chris Coleman
“Tonight the President laid out a clear vision for the future of America. A future that will be won with cooperation between the public and private sectors to foster job creation and a robust commitment to investment in our infrastructure. In particular, I applaud his emphasis on educational innovation and the critical role it will play in the future competitiveness of our nation. The President was right.  We do big things when we work together and are open to an honest debate on the merits of the challenges we face.  I look forward to working with businesses and community leaders to achieve even bigger things here in Saint Paul and throughout the region.”

Milwaukee, Wisconsin Mayor Tom Barrett

“Tonight, President Obama spoke directly to the American people about growing our economy and securing our nation’s future. There is so much more to be done for the millions of Americans who are out of work, for our families struggling to make-up for lost wages and for our young people looking to join the workforce. President Obama laid out a plan to tackle these issues. It’s time Democrats, Republicans and Independents join the President in making sure that our economy is growing and working for all Americans. President Obama is right. Our greatest challenge is not overcoming partisan politics; it’s winning the race with global competitors for the jobs and industries we need to keep America great.”

Des Moines, Iowa Mayor Frank Cownie

“The President outlined tonight an economic agenda that will create jobs for the American people and continue the economic  recovery.  It is a realistic plan that makes tough budget choices while investing in our future.    The President is asking all of us to be more creative in building a more competitive economy.  This means we will have to find ways to spend our federal resources smarter and more efficiently.  This is what every American family has had to do since the start of the recession and one that the federal government must now embrace.  I  applaud the President’s priorities for increasing American competitiveness, including continued investments in infrastructure, education, research and development, and energy independence."

Business Leaders: What They’re Saying About the President’s State of the Union Address

Following President Obama’s second State of the Union address, here’s what business leaders are saying:

U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Thomas J. Donohue President
“Tonight President Obama highlighted the urgent need to revitalize our economy, create jobs, build a world-class infrastructure system, and strengthen America’s competitiveness in his State of the Union address. America must move swiftly to create millions of jobs, unshackle entrepreneurs and small businesses, and restore America’s economic leadership around the globe—or we will be left behind. While there will be differences on how to achieve these goals, we must find enough common ground to ensure America’s greatness into the 21st century. Our country and our economy will succeed only when the administration, Congress, the business community, and active citizens work together. The U.S. Chamber will work with anyone who shares our goals and we don’t care who gets the credit.”     

National Small Business Association, Larry Nannis, Chair

“Innovation is what we do. Small firms produce five times as many patents per revenue dollar as large companies and 20 times as many as universities.  We applaud the president’s commitment to innovation and look forward to joint efforts ensuring the continued success of programs such as the Small Business Innovation Research program.”

National Small Business Association, Todd McCracken, President and CEO

“I am pleased that the President tonight underscored the important role small business plays in every aspect of the U.S.  Given the very early stages of economic recovery the small-business community is just now seeing, this kind of strong commitment to a thriving small-business community is critical.”

Business Roundtable, John Engler, President

“Business Roundtable is heartened by President Obama’s focus on American competitiveness. U.S. job creation and long-term growth depend on a robust economic climate. The priorities laid out tonight by the President must now be analyzed closely to ensure they will promote, rather than stifle, an environment where the private sector can create jobs and expand the economy…  Since November, President Obama has taken important steps – including his recent order for a comprehensive regulatory review – signaling that he is ready to change direction and focus on what is necessary to drive a vigorous recovery with job opportunities for American workers. We look forward to continuing our work with the Administration and Congress on policies that will make our nation more competitive, more innovative and more prosperous.  In our comprehensive economic plan released in December, the Roadmap for Growth, our member CEOs outlined several priority areas where immediate action is needed. The Roadmap can help advance the President’s goal of increasing U.S. competitiveness. For example, we must promptly ratify and pursue more trade agreements, enact comprehensive tax reform and reevaluate excessive and expensive regulations.   At the same time, we also urge a careful review of all new spending proposals mentioned tonight. As Chairman Paul Ryan made clear in his response, American prosperity depends on our ability to simultaneously manage down the debt and deficit as we work to boost competitiveness. This work must build on the outline suggested by the President’s own National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.”

Business Council for Sustainable Energy, Lisa Jacobson, President

"The President's State of the Union provided a clear foundation for a discussion our nation must have on the future of our energy policy. President Obama acknowledged the need for bipartisan action and established a clean energy future as a key issue for congressional action in 2011 and for American competitiveness and economic growth in the long term. President Obama specifically cited two important objectives that will help ensure that America is the leading innovator in the 21st century. Those benchmarks were that 80 percent of our electricity should come from clean energy sources by 2035 and that U.S. exports double by 2015. These are laudable beginnings to a conversation that must take place in the 112th Congress.  Commercially available clean energy technologies and resources such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, and natural gas are essential pillars of our energy future. The President's speech establishes a clear goal that will drive market demand and will allow business innovation to achieve this goal."

Semiconductor Industry Association, Brian Toohey, President

“Maintaining America’s lead in semiconductor design and manufacturing is the key to long-term economic success, period. This is why we are pleased to see the Administration intently focused on propelling businesses forward through tax reform, lessening the regulatory burden and spurring the efforts of America’s greatest asset; its scientists and engineers.  Semiconductor  technology represents the heartbeat of today’s economic engine and tomorrow’s most innovative advances, but the industry is facing challenges that we are hopeful will be addressed by this Administration and the Congress, and we look forward to working on these critical issues in the coming months .”

Information and Technology Industry Council, Dean Garfield, President and CEO

“Tonight we watched two great speeches that hit all the right points. All politics aside, I honestly can’t remember the last time a State of the Union and official response included as many bi-partisan thematics and ideas as President Obama and Chairman Ryan included tonight. Job well done.  Now comes the fun part. When the dust settles tomorrow, I hope Republicans and Democrats will join together and outline a deadline-driven plan that includes the majority of what we heard tonight (e.g. – corporate tax reform, innovation and strategic investment, STEM education, expanded trade, broadband deployment and R&D). The longer we wait, the harder it will be to rise to the challenge and achieve consensus before the 2012 election. China and India aren’t waiting, so neither should we.  More so than ever before, the majority of the president’s speech tonight focused on areas in which the high-tech sector will play a central role. We are ready and prepared to be an able partner in reinventing America, but let’s all take advantage of this once-in-a-generation moment in which we agree on the fundamental elements of our nation’s long-term recovery.  The tone has been set. Now let’s get to work on the agenda.”

Bay Area Council, Jim Wunderman, President and CEO

"President Obama's State of the Union address tonight hit every theme and issue that is near and dear to the Bay Area Council. Whether it's supporting innovation to better compete globally or easing the burden of government regulations, President Obama sent the right signal to the business community that he understands that our success is vital to America's continued prosperity.  His reinforced commitment to promoting trade, completing high-speed rail and rebuilding our infrastructure also provides optimism that he is committed to creating jobs over the next two years.  Ultimately however, his words tonight will only matter if he is able to work across the aisle, forge compromise and bring the country together with real solutions to our nation's most difficult challenges."

U.S.-Korea Business Council, Tami Overby, President, and Vice President, Asia of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

“We are pleased that the KORUS FTA is front and center in the President’s efforts to double U.S. exports within the next five years.  As the President noted in his address, the agreement has unprecedented business, labor, and bipartisan support.  We hope that the administration and Congress will move quickly to bring the agreement forward for a vote this year.” 


U.S.-Korea FTA Business Coalition, Laura Lane, Co-Chair, and Managing Director and Head of  International Government Affairs, Citigroup, Inc.

“We look forward to working with the administration to highlight the ways that implementing this agreement will support jobs and new export opportunities for U.S. manufacturers, farmers, ranchers and services providers with Korea, one of the United States’ most important trading partners.”

Solar Energy Industries Association, Rhone Resch, President and CEO

“Tonight we heard President Obama's commitment to creating jobs and keeping America competitive in the global marketplace. The U.S. solar industry is playing a critical role in meeting both of these objectives.  Tomorrow morning, nearly 100,000 Americans in all 50 states will go to work as they do every day – at solar manufacturing facilities; on the roofs of homes and business installing the latest solar technology; at offices offering support in finance, legal and marketing departments. More are finding work in solar every single day. At tonight's address were Gary and Robert Allen from Rochester Hills, Michigan. Their company, LUMA Resources, utilized funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to transform their roofing company into a manufacturing facility of state-of-the-art solar shingles, creating new manufacturing jobs for Michigan workers. They are one example of thousands of companies that are finding new opportunity in the solar industry. With the right policy support, the U.S. solar industry is scaling up and allowing America to innovate and compete in the global marketplace. Congress should take notice of success stories like LUMA Resources when considering how to create new jobs and keep America competitive in the 21st century.”

Infrastructure Experts: What They’re Saying About the President’s State of the Union Address

Following President Obama’s second State of the Union address,  here’s what infrastructure experts are saying:

Associated General Contractors of America, Stephen Sandherr, Chief Executive Officer

“In an era of fly specking the federal budget, the President was right to distinguish between wasteful government spending and necessary infrastructure investments.  As do leading Republican officials such as Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, the President appears to understand the vital role efficient and well-maintained infrastructure plays in supporting broader economic growth.  After all, companies can’t thrive and expand if their deliveries are late and their employees are stuck in traffic.  Investing in infrastructure now doesn’t just boost the private sector, it protects the taxpayers.  That is because maintaining roads, bridges and water systems now, especially in today’s extremely competitive construction market, is a lot less expensive than repairing broken infrastructure later. Congressional leaders can further protect taxpayers by enacting needed reforms that ensure public funds are invested in a manner that is accountable and effective.  It doesn’t take an earmark to keep our traffic flowing and our bridges safe.”

Building America’s Future Co-Chair and Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell

“The President’s infrastructure initiative is substantial, but more important, it will make a difference for generations to come.  He knows that infrastructure is about even more than roads, bridges and buildings; it’s about creating jobs, growing the economy and building the future.”

Building America’s Future Co-Chair and Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

“President Obama understands that putting money into infrastructure is not an expense, it’s an investment.  And it’s an investment that will reap great benefits for years to come for this country. Infrastructure isn’t about the left versus the right or liberal versus conservative; it’s about falling behind or moving forward.  I urge Congress to work with the president to make infrastructure a bipartisan priority and to move our nation forward.”

Building America’s FutureCo-Chair and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg

The President’s call for a renewed focus on infrastructure investment – including high speed rail – is critically important to keeping American competitive in the 21st century.  We look forward to working with the White House – and Congressional leaders in both parties –  to base our infrastructure investments on economics, not politics.”

US PIRG, Dan Smith, Transportation Associate

“Addressing the nation tonight, President Obama renewed his call for investment in our nation’s crumbling and outdated transportation infrastructure, rightly emphasizing that a smarter, more efficient transportation system is critical to economic competitiveness. The President singled out high-speed rail as a centerpiece of a 21st century transportation system.  Connecting 80 percent of Americans with high-speed rail would revolutionize American life just as the interstate highway system did in the last century. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, foster closer regional business connections, lead to economic development, and provide a safe and convenient option for travelers.  With traffic on the rise, increasing gas prices, and a population estimated to increase by 70 million in the next 25 years, America cannot afford to put off key investments and neglect rail and public transportation. In an era of tight-budgets, the President stressed the importance of getting the most out of taxpayer dollars. That means prioritizing investments that best meet our nation’s long-term needs, not short-term political goals.  Now is the time to make the targeted investments in our infrastructure that are essential to securing America’s economic future. Both parties in Congress should come together to pass transportation reauthorization legislation that meets our needs for the 21st century.”

Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, Edward Wytkind, President

“In his State of the Union address, President Obama upped the ante in the debate about investing in our crumbling transportation system and infrastructure.  Not since President Eisenhower committed to building a national interstate highway system has a President told the nation – as President Obama declared last night – that rebuilding America lies at the core of ‘winning the future.’ President Obama is in complete agreement with transportation labor in saying that America can no longer afford to fall behind China – with its ‘faster trains and newer airports’ – and the rest of the world in investing in the movement of people, goods and information.  He said our infrastructure used to ‘be the best – but our lead has slipped.’  And he talked about the need to ‘redouble’ our efforts to use strategically significant investments to create good jobs. Needless to say, we agree.  Last night’s speech wasn’t just another State of the Union address – it was a President committing to thinking big about America’s future and making our 21st Century transportation system and infrastructure the envy of the world again.  The truth is that we will fail to meet the nation’s mounting transportation needs in this new decade by cutting the transportation budget to 2008 or lower levels, as some in Congress have proposed. As Congress considers several long-overdue, multi-year transportation investment bills, we pledge our support to make the President’s vision to rebuild, expand and modernize our entire transportation system a reality.”

AAA, Robert L. Darbelnet, CEO

“Last night the President rightly addressed the serious deficiencies in the nation’s aging roads, bridges and transit systems, and made a case for investment in transportation.  Just as Members of Congress sat side by side last night, AAA asks our elected leaders to be unified on the future of transportation, which impacts our country on multiple fronts.  The time is right to re-invest in the fundamentals that will help ensure the U.S. can compete in the 21st century economy and people can get to work, school, or wherever they want to go, safely and efficiently. It is also time to map out an effective plan that will help fund the necessary investment for Americans’ growing mobility needs.  The challenges are significant, but enactment of a reformed, more accountable multi-year surface transportation bill is an important step in ‘winning the future’ for America.”‪

Transportation for America, James Corless, Director

“We were thrilled to hear the President come right out and say that investment in transportation and other infrastructure is central to rebuilding and growing our economy. An upfront investment in the most needed, clean transportation projects is a great opportunity to create near-term jobs and lay the groundwork for the future economy.  The President acknowledged that money will be tight and we have to make the best of use of it. That requires fixing the 20th century infrastructure – our crumbling roads and bridges – as we build out the infrastructure for the 21st. That certainly includes high-speed rail, but it also means helping communities get moving on long-planned networks of light rail, street cars, rapid buses, and making progress on road reconstruction to make our streets safe for people walking, biking and driving.  The President’s vision for infrastructure is not just about near-term construction jobs. It is, as he said, about growing new businesses, livable neighborhoods and dynamic regions that can attract a young and mobile workforce and compete internationally. It’s about jobs associated with new transportation technologies and manufacturing modern transit vehicles, everything from real time information systems to make our highways and transit corridors smarter, to the new rail cars being built today by United Streetcar in Oregon that can breathe new life into our cities and suburbs.  We eagerly await the ‘flesh on the bones’ that must come with the Administration’s proposal for the overdue, six-year transportation package, and the President’s continued leadership in ensuring that Congress adopts it this year.” 

Energy and Climate Experts: What They’re Saying About the President’s State of the Union Address

Following President Obama’s second State of the Union address, here’s what energy and climate experts are saying:

Center for American Progress Action Fund, Kate Gordon, Vice President of Energy Policy

“President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to American innovation and ingenuity by proposing new investments in clean energy research, development, and deployment.  This stands in sharp contrast to the Republican Study Committee, whose plan undermines American competitiveness by chopping away at key programs designed to leverage private investment in clean energy solutions for tomorrow."

Center for American Progress Action Fund, Daniel J. Weiss, Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy

“President Obama’s clean energy plan would launch the United States into the 21st century by investing in high tech vehicles.  This would protect people from pollution, cut foreign oil imports and create jobs.  The Republican Study Committee would keep us chained to oil imports by ignoring cars of the future while eliminating investments in high speed rail.” 

World Resources Institute, Jonathan Lash, President

“President Obama made a renewed call for American leadership in clean energy that will create jobs while helping protect the environment. Obama’s declaration of a Sputnik moment is a reminder of the opportunity before us to shift to an energy future that can make America’s economy the most competitive and innovative in the world. Setting a new clean energy goal, the President made a strong commitment to America’s clean energy future. America should be setting the pace by investing in sustainable infrastructure, developing new technologies, and finding innovative solutions to meet the challenges of the 21st century.  But more is needed to truly protect the planet– especially from the threats of climate change. After a year of record-breaking temperatures and a string of notable extreme weather events, the urgency of shifting to low-carbon energy and tackling climate change is as clear as ever. Yet there is a widening gap between what the science tells us is needed and action on the ground– and America needs to do more to reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020. We hope leaders across the country– from business executives to mayors to legislators– recognize the threats we face and will rise to achieve the goals the President has set.”

League of Conservation Voters, Gene Karpinski, President

"We applaud President Obama's call for ending oil subsidies, transitioning to a 21st century transportation system and enforcing commonsense safeguards to protect our air and water, but we object to his attempt to redefine clean energy to include nuclear and so-called 'clean coal.'"

Securing America’s Future Energy, Robbie Diamond, President and CEO

“Tonight, it has become even more clear that the Democrats and Republicans alike have the opportunity to make 2011 the year America finally turned away from its destructive dependence on oil. There is no doubt that momentum has been building.  In 2009, Republicans and Democrats alike on the Senate Energy Committee passed a comprehensive bill to address our energy security vulnerabilities. In 2010, electrification of transportation emerged as a genuinely bipartisan energy policy. Tonight, the president confirmed that our path forward is a path away from addiction to oil. Our oil dependence poses a very real and very immediate threat to the entire nation. By disrupting the flow of oil, terrorists and foreign suppliers have the ability to strike at the heart of our economy. Even today, our slow climb out of recession is in danger of being stopped in its tracks by rising energy prices.  Many of the president’s proposals tonight represent important steps toward combating our energy security vulnerabilities.  He talked about improvements to our transportation infrastructure, which are critical as more and more Americans are wasting fuel—not to mention their own precious time—stuck in traffic every day.  He talked about a new commitment to research and development, which will not only lay the groundwork for new technological innovations, but will help to guarantee that the United States remains at the forefront of new energy developments and industries. And perhaps most importantly, he reiterated his commitment to electric vehicles, which—because they are powered by the full diversity of domestically-produced fuels, from natural gas to nuclear to wind and solar—offer the potential to finally end the threats posed by our oil dependence once and for all.  And in fact, we must do even more.  Even if we start today, in the short term, we will remain dependent on oil, and as long as that is the case, it is critical that we produce more of it domestically, taking power away from supplier nations whose interests are rarely aligned with our own.  Energy security is not an issue that can wait. The president and Congress, Republicans and Democrats, need to step up to the plate and face this threat head on. We have made important strides in recent years, and tonight’s speech represented another step forward.  We can and must finish the job in 2011.”

The Wilderness Society

“We agree with the President that there is nothing free in the marketplace of ideas – we must make investments today to be competitive tomorrow. And tomorrow’s technologies need money we are using today to help line the pockets of big oil companies – even in this economy, they remain some of the most profitable companies in the world.  The President is right. We must do more than just nurture ideas, we have to put policies in place to ensure renewable energy companies have a market waiting for these technologies. To be effective, this standard must be promote fuels that are as green as they are clean – and that means harnessing the power of the sun and wind and heat of the earth.  This market must be guided by a commitment to put facilities in the right places. Our transition to a more sustainable energy economy should tread lightly on our public lands, safeguarding the rich diversity of wild lands and wildlife that make this country great.”

Environment America, Nathan Willcox, Federal Global Warming Program Director

“Tonight, President Obama talked about the importance of clean water and clean air, and the critical role that commonsense safeguards have played in protecting the nation’s health.  We applaud the President for his commitment to protecting these landmark programs—especially given that his leadership will be essential to defending the Clean Air Act against attacks by polluters and their allies in Congress.  We also applaud the President’s commitment to putting 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015 and to cutting subsidies to Big Oil, which will help break America’s dependence on oil, create jobs and cut global warming pollution. President Obama’s vision for clean energy is commendable, but we need to commit to truly clean energy like solar, wind and energy efficiency, which don’t threaten our public health or our environment.  So-called “clean coal” and nuclear power in fact, create more pollution and put our environment and our health at risk.”

World Resources Institute, Jonathan Lash, President

“President Obama made a renewed call for American leadership in clean energy that will create jobs while helping protect the environment. Obama’s declaration of a Sputnik moment is a reminder of the opportunity before us to shift to an energy future that can make America’s economy the most competitive and innovative in the world.  Setting a new clean energy goal, the President made a strong commitment to America’s clean energy future. America should be setting the pace by investing in sustainable infrastructure, developing new technologies, and finding innovative solutions to meet the challenges of the 21st century. But more is needed to truly protect the planet– especially from the threats of climate change. After a year of record-breaking temperatures and a string of notable extreme weather events, the urgency of shifting to low-carbon energy and tackling climate change is as clear as ever. Yet there is a widening gap between what the science tells us is needed and action on the ground– and America needs to do more to reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020.  We hope leaders across the country– from business executives to mayors to legislators– recognize the threats we face and will rise to achieve the goals the President has set.”

Alliance to Save Energy, Kateri Callahan, President

“Cost-effective investments in energy efficiency will help fuel the recovery of our still-fragile economy, save consumers money and create clean-energy jobs, all while helping the nation maintain its competitive edge in technological innovation.  Energy saved is money saved and jobs created – it’s just that simple.  Energy efficiency not only saves Americans money on everyday energy bill.  It is a homegrown resource that creates jobs in America, makes our economy more competitive on the world stage and provides important national security and environmental benefits. The ENERGY STAR program, for example, saves $75 in energy costs for each federal dollar invested. In 2009, that came to about $150 per household and a whopping $17 billion overall.  We urge President Obama to continue championing advanced, job-creating, energy-efficiency technologies that deliver tangible savings for every American while retaining our nation’s leadership in sustainable products, programs and processes.”

25x'25 Alliance, Read Smith, Co-Chairman of the National Steering Committee

“The 25x’25 Alliance commends President Obama for his foresight and the prominence he has given to the goal of producing 80 percent or America’s electricity with clean energy by 2035.  With the vision of meeting 25 percent of our nation’s total energy needs with renewables from the land, the 25x’25 Alliance believes that America’s farms, ranches and forestlands can provide the renewable energy that can help meet the president’s ambitious target.  President Obama recognizes the enormous power that renewable energy development can provide in creating jobs and driving economic recovery. Clean energy solutions from America’s farms, ranches and forests can generate more than $700 billion in new economic activity annually and create 5 million new jobs. The renewable energy sector has been the fastest growing domestic energy sector over the past five years when renewable energy consumption in the United States grew by 30 percent. Now is the time to build on these improvements and ensure that America wins the global race to a clean energy future. Congress must recognize this opportunity and come together in a bipartisan consensus that can lead to the adoption of a comprehensive, long term national energy policy platform that assures the security and stability of clean energy markets. It’s the most assured way of boosting our economy by creating jobs, enhancing our national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and improving our environment by reducing emissions.”

Science Experts: What They’re Saying About the President’s State of the Union Address

Following President Obama’s second State of the Union address, here’s what science experts are saying:

American Institute of Biological Sciences, Dr. Richard O'Grady, Executive Director

"The President has repeatedly expressed his commitment to scientific discovery, innovation, and education.  AIBS is pleased to see that his commitment remains strong.  Science can not move forward and respond to our grand challenges in an environment of uncertainty.  The nation must make sustained and predictable investments in research and development.

American Institute of Biological Sciences, Dr. Robert Gropp, Public Policy Director

“We were heartened to hear that President Obama plans to submit to Congress in the coming weeks a budget that would continue to make investments in scientific research.  I look forward to seeing the details.” 

TechAmerica, Phil Bond, President and CEO

“We heartily agree with the President that if we are to win the future, our nation’s focus must be on accelerating entrepreneurship, innovation, global competitiveness and job creation. Much remains to be done to keep America at the cutting-edge, however.  Pro-innovation tax reform, free trade, improved education, immigration reform, broadband deployment, a permanent R&D credit and securing cyberspace are all critical for honing our competitive edge in the 21st century economy. According to TechAmerica Foundation’s “Cyberstates 2010” Report, the U.S. high tech industry employs 5.8 million people at 375,600 establishments with a payroll of $516 billion, accounting for 10 percent of total U.S. private sector employment.  U.S. high-technology workers are paid an average wage of $84,400 which are 86 percent higher than the average private sector wage.  Preparing Americans to perform and create jobs of the future requires investment in the building blocks of innovation, such as research and development, physical infrastructure, human capital and a competitive tax code. America must also have a strong, competitive agenda for free trade that will help open new markets to U.S. exports and create jobs. U.S. high-tech exports supported 944,300 domestic jobs in the United States and high tech was the United States largest industry export according to TechAmerica’s “Trade in the Cyberstates 2010” Report.  Ninety-five percent of the world’s population lives outside the United States and tech companies on average depend upon exports for half all revenues. The first principle of comprehensive tax reform should be to make American companies more competitive. If nothing changes by this spring, the U.S. will tax corporations at a higher rate than any other nation. Technology also represents a clear path to a smarter, more efficient government.  Innovation is the key to saving taxpayer dollars and helping government to work better for all Americans. We support the President’s efforts to make the government a better customer and user of technology and call on Congress to support that effort in its oversight and appropriations processes.”

Health Care Experts: What They’re Saying About the President’s State of the Union Address

Following President Obama’s second State of the Union address, here’s what health care experts are saying:

Health Care for America Now, Ethan Rome, Executive Director

“President Obama reminded all of us why it was so important for our nation to deal with the health care crisis, and he poignantly talked about how the Affordable Care Act is helping millions and millions of people every day.   The President made clear that we are not going to give our health care back to the insurance companies, and he challenged Republicans to look forward instead of fighting the battles of the past.  It's clear that the Republicans have a big decision to make. They can try to sabotage the new health care law and undo it at every turn, or they can acknowledge that it’s the law of the land, that it’s making a difference in people's lives and that this battle is over. Instead of trying to destroy a law that’s working, Congress should spend its time revitalizing the economy, putting people back to work and rebuilding the middle class.”

American Lung Association, Charles D. Connor, President and CEO

“ This evening President Obama delivered his State of the Union Address to Congress and the nation.  The president addressed a broad range of issues that affect the American public, and we commend the President for his strong commitment to protecting public health and clean air.  Part of a comprehensive approach to health includes air that is safe and healthy to breathe. We are heartened by the president’s support for the Clean Air Act – a law that exemplifies his vision for bipartisan collaboration to protect public health and create jobs.   We look for his continued leadership to work with Congress to defend the Clean Air Act against attack and to make sure the Environmental Protection Agency enforces the law to protect the public health.”

U.S. PIRG, Larry McNeely, Health Care Advocate

“Tonight, it is only fitting that the President spotlighted small business owners, like auto repair shop owner Jim Hauser, who are now receiving health insurance tax credits established by the new federal health care law.  The new law takes the first steps to address the rising costs threatening the future of businesses, consumers, and the country as a whole. Unfortunately, in recent weeks, Congress has focused on debating repeal proposals that would undermine the fight against rising costs.  The U.S PIRG report The Cost of Repeal found that under repeal, four million small businesses would lose eligibility for health insurance tax credits, the per-employee cost of employer-sponsored health insurance would climb by more than $3000 over the next decade, and 1.2 million young adults who can now attain coverage through their parent’s plan would face much higher insurance costs on the individual market.  U.S. PIRG urges all of our elected leaders to move past this divisive debate, and start working on common-ground solutions that further address rising health care costs.”

Education Experts: What They’re Saying About the President’s State of the Union Address

Following President Obama’s second State of the Union address, here’s what education experts are saying:

Compete America

“We wholeheartedly agree with the President – our nation must focus on creating U.S. jobs, sustaining the world leadership that has made it great and encouraging the innovation that has and will continue to make America a ‘light to the world.’    Reforming the employment-based visa and green card systems that U.S. employers use to expand employment opportunities for U.S. workers and grow the innovation economy can help meet these goals.  Common sense reforms, such as clearing employment-based green card backlogs and implementing a market-based approach to H-1B visa allocation, are key to the nation’s future growth.  As the President rightly noted, America must ‘win the race to educate our kids,’ a goal that Compete America has long supported.  And we agree with the President that it makes no sense to educate foreign-born students in our U.S. universities and colleges and then send them abroad to compete against us – an argument Compete America has long made in support of employment-based immigration reform. The members of Compete America look forward to working with the President, Congress and all stakeholders to ensure that U.S. employers continue to have access to the foreign-born, highly educated talent who have and will continue to help drive U.S. job creation, innovation and American competitiveness so that America can ‘win the future.’”

U.S. PIRG, Rich Williams, Higher Education Advocate

“Tonight, President Obama renewed his commitment to a stronger Pell Grant program. The Pell Grant is the most significant higher education investment the President can make to show his commitment to a stronger economy and workforce. Even as he proposed a five-year freeze for most government spending, President Obama continues to invest in vital education programs.  It could not come at a better time. Pell Grants are enabling nearly nine million students to afford higher education and post-secondary job training at a time when our economy is in dire need of skilled professionals.   The strong investment in grant aid combined with efforts to make permanent the American Opportunity Tax Credit, to make student loans more affordable, and to invest in community colleges will keep millions of college students in school and on track. If our country is to emerge from our downturn, we must invest in the students and workers who are the future of our economy.”

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