The state of the union is “strong” according to President Barack Obama as he addressed a Congress looking much different than it has during his time in the Oval Office.
During the president's sixth State of the Union speech, the lines were clearly drawn between Republicans and Democrats with few instances of noticeable agreement.
Combined rounds of applause came for U.S. troops both home and abroad and free trade.
The president said his policies have lowered unemployment, and have led to a return of manufacturing jobs in the U.S.
National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons says much more needs to be done, including changes in tax codes.
"Sustaining the manufacturing comeback that Americans have sought for years will take more than a pledge. It will take action on the right policies from the President and Congress."
Scott Paul, President of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, thought Obama’s view on U.S. manufacturing and trade was a bit too rosy.
"President Obama has oversold the manufacturing resurgence. Yes, 786,000 jobs have been added in manufacturing since 2010. Most of those jobs were added as the result of increased demand during the recovery. Some of them were added thanks to the auto rescue. Virtually none of those jobs were added due to reshoring."
Democrat representative Tim Ryan hailed the president’s agenda for reviving the middle class and manufacturing, while also calling for more transparency when it comes to trade agreements.
"While I was pleased the State of the Union included a blueprint to improve the lives of the hardworking men and women in America, I believe those Americans should also be represented in the ongoing conversations regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and Fast Track Authority. We have seen too many times trade agreements passed with no proper debate or transparency and I cannot stand by and support a trade policy that moves jobs overseas and cripples American manufacturing."
President Obama’s agenda included a plan for two years of free community college for all Americans.
The cost of tuition would be paid for with tax increases on the nation’s richest Americans.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue said doing so would cancel all gains made in jobs and manufacturing.
"President Obama’s plan to dramatically increase taxes, spending, and regulation is the wrong prescription for the economy. It will slow economic growth and job creation, stifle innovation, and worsen our nation’s debt and entitlement crises."
And Dan Danner, President and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business, said the president’s tax plan does nothing for small businesses.
"There are 6 million small employers in America. They create most of the jobs and they pay most of the taxes. And most of them pay the income tax, not the corporate tax. Making them more competitive necessarily means cutting their tax rates. Nothing in what the President outlined this evening offers to them any real relief. Some of what he proposed would be actually harmful."
As many as 30 million people tuned in for the president's speech which he delivered with a swagger, riding high on a building economy, lower fuel prices and big jump in his approval rating.