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Washington Watch - February 13, 2013

President Addresses Nation in 4th State of the Union

Last night, President Obama delivered his State of the Union address, outlining an ambitious second term agenda including: immigration reform, climate change, changes to current gun laws, and hope in tackling comprehensive tax reform. However in a startling move, President Obama only mentioned the small business community twice.

In his first comment directed at small businesses, the President openly supported efforts for bi-partisan, comprehensive tax reform, saying, “The American people deserve a tax code that helps small businesses spend less time filling out complicated forms, and more time expanding and hiring; a tax code that ensures billionaires with high-powered accountants can’t pay a lower rate than their hard-working secretaries; a tax code that lowers incentives to move jobs overseas, and lowers tax rates for businesses and manufacturers that create jobs right here in America. That’s what tax reform can deliver. That’s what we can do together.”

As we have written, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Camp (R-Mich.) has laid out an ambitious schedule to overhaul the American tax code this year. Tackling both individual and corporate tax reform, President Obama’s strong words are encouraging to us all that there is the will for true tax code reform.

In an additional effort to reach out to the small-business community, the President talked about aggressive expansion in manufacturing, energy, infrastructure (dubbed the “Fix-it-First” program), and housing, in an effort to help boost entrepreneurs and small-business owners.

During his speech, the President also announced his wish to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00. He argues that the federal minimum wage should be tied to cost of living, a proposal previously floated by Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. While the speech was fairly predictable, the call for a dramatic increase in the federal minimum wage rate was fairly surprising.

Yes, the State of the Union lays out the legislative wishes of the President; however, it is up to Congress to enact the laws. The day after it is unclear what proposals will garner bi-partisan support in the months ahead, but we know the small-business community will be watching and encouraging Congress to address the many big issues impacting America’s self-employed.

Read the full text of President Obama’s State of the Union here.

Mr. President: Time to Partner With the Small-Business Community

Prior to the President’s State of the Union address, NASE President and CEO Kristie Arslan shared her thoughts with the Huffington Post on how the self-employed and America’s small businesses can help the economy grow and expand.

“Any economic agenda proposed by President Obama Tuesday evening must include a robust plan for America's small-business community. The status quo is no longer acceptable; we need an actionable plan that not only creates equity for our small-business community, but ensures we have the tools and resources to flourish and help our nation's economy rebuild. It's not just sound economic policies needed for existing businesses to thrive and expand, but also self-employment training assistance and micro-lending programs that will foster the creation of new businesses.”

You can reach Kristie’s full Huffington Post blog here.

NASE to host Congressional Welcome Reception

On Feb. 26, 2013, the National Association for the Self-Employed, National Small Business Association, Small Business Majority, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, Small Business Legislative Council, Women Impacting Public Policy, U.S. Black Chamber, and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will host a welcome reception for the new members of Congress, and members serving on the Senate and House Small Business Committees.

This will provide an opportunity for new members and staff to interact with the small-business community and familiarize themselves with the legislative priorities of the small-business community, individually and collectively.

If you are a congressional staffer and would like to attend, please RSVP here.

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