Business Reacts to Clintons State of the Union

Just as President Clinton didnt mention his sexual and legal woes during his State of the Union Jan.27, business groups were similarly silent on them in their reaction to his remarks. They liked parts of the speech, disliked others.

By calling for expanding trade, improving education, reforming entitlements, and attacking crime and drugs, the President appears to have heard the message of American business, said U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas J. Donahue. But otherwise, added Chief Economist Martin Regalia, Clintons proposals are not a prescription of economic growth. He pointed out that although Clinton warned against adding to the federal deficit, he went on to recite a laundry list of some two dozen new spending proposals.

National Assn. of Manufacturers President Jerry Jasinowski also applauded Clintons remarks on trade, but warned that the Presidents avalanche of new government programs, mandates, and regulations...will only weaken our productivity and growth rather than preparing us for the 21st century. Jasinowski criticized Clintons failure to call for reform of the tax and regulatory systems or to propose that workers be able to put a portion of their Social Security funds into private investment accounts.

National Federation of Independent Business President Jack Faris said Clintons support for a balanced budget and IRS restructuring will be well received by small-business owners. But Faris decried the lack of any small-business initiatives in the speech. Instead, Faris said, the President put small business on the defensive by urging Congress to pass health-care mandates, hike the starting wage, and expand the Family & Medical Leave Act

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