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Prepping for business reaction to the State of the Union address

Keep these key topics in mind for finding and covering business angles in the State of the Union address. Photo by David Katz/Obama for America

Jobs and the economy will be center stage when President Obama delivers the 2013 State of the Union address this evening.  Immigration, the across-the-board budget cuts of sequestions (a.k.a. the fiscal cliff), energy and other issues relevant to business also are likely to be mentioned by the president and in the two Republican rebuttals that are planned for after the SOTU address.

If you’re prepping for a reaction story, here are some issues to keep in mind.  (It might be interesting to pre-schedule early-morning calls with area CEOs, CFOs and other leaders across an array of industries, from health care to real estate and construction to finance – to get their first take on the president’s proposals.  Quotes for a quick web update could form the basis of a second-day story.)

Business constituents have their own hopes for the president’s second-term agenda, and opinions no doubt will vary about the plans outlined in the president’s address — which, by the way, will be attended by Apple CEO Tim Cook.   The executive, who will be among Mrs. Obama’s guests, created a buzz last year when he announced that some Apple manufacturing would return to the United States, as the Los Angeles Times report.

Not all business leaders are as supportive of or sanguine about the president’s plans, if this 2013 agenda by the Business Roundtable is any indication.   The group of CEOs says lower corporate taxes and other changes to the tax code, debt reduction, immigration reform that will let them attract more overseas workers,  a higher Social Security retirement age, private plans to compete with Medicare and development of U.S. energy resources are at the top of its wish list.   Here’s the entire 24-page PDF of “It’s Time to Act for America’s Future;” you can peruse the portions relevant to the industries in your area and ask local business leaders how this influential group’s goals align with local concerns, or not, and why.  Here’s the BRT member list; you can scan it for those in your area.

Another high-profile advocacy group is the National Federation of Independent Businesses, which represents the small business sector and which doesn’t seem too thrilled with Washington, D.C., these days.  They will be out Tuesday ahead of President Obama’s speech with their Small Business Trends Report; it will be interesting to see how it compares with last month’s, which in terms of optimism was near an historic low post-election.  (Interestingly, since the Business Roundtable’s agenda calls for increased access to capital despite current low borrowing rates, the small business owners say tapping credit is of low priority to them.)  Again, you can use the metrics from the new report as a template for polling business owners in your market about their 2013 outlook and their reaction to the president’s speech.   The NFIB also will be Tweeting the speech; you can follow @NFIBLive to observe.

One other source you might tap for expert reaction is the National Association of Business Economists; they were out recently with a relatively upbeat 2013 outlook, in contrast to the business lobbying groups (which might have a more vested interest in pooh-poohing government plans) and their media folks might be able to point you to regional or industry experts you need.

 

About the Author

Veteran financial writer Melissa Preddy served as a business writer, editor and columnist for The Detroit News from 1995 to 2008, is a Michigan-based freelance journalist. She now works as a writer and editor for a medical research unit of the University of Michigan Medical School. Follow her daily posts. | E-mail: Melissa Preddy

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