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Tom Donohue: What We Hope to Hear in State of the Union Address

Americans need swift action and genuine leadership from President Obama and Congress

President Barack Obama will give his annual State of the Union address Tuesday night to a joint session of Congress, followed by a response from Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana.

What would the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the business community most like to hear from these speakers and in the reactions from members of Congress?

We want to hear constructive ideas and genuine solutions that will grow our economy and put Americans back to work. We want to see a willingness among our leaders to work together for the country and to make sure that 2012 is not a wasted year simply because it is an election year.

Our nation’s leaders, beginning with President Obama, should stop pointing fingers. Demonizing industries and groups of Americans for political gain or cynically dividing Americans by class will not help our economy or create the jobs we need.

The Chamber of Commerce has put forward a number of practical ideas for growing the economy and creating jobs without raising taxes or adding to the deficit. How can we do this? By producing energy and rebuilding our infrastructure, expanding trade and tourism, enacting regulatory and legal reforms, encouraging innovation and restructuring the tax code, and controlling government spending and reforming entitlements.

We’re asking Washington to help by clearing away the impediments and allowing the private sector to spur growth and create millions of new jobs. These are commonsense ideas that can draw consensus and get results.

Other proposals are out there, too. The House of Representatives has passed some 30 bills that House leaders say would boost the economy and support new jobs. These bills have so far been blocked by Senate leaders. Surely, there must be some good ideas in all those bills that a majority of senators could support!

The president, no doubt, will make a fine speech. But the more than 22 million Americans who are unemployed, working only part time or who have given up looking for jobs need more than soaring rhetoric. They need action and leadership. And all Americans, including future generations, need a government that learns how to control its appetite to borrow, spend, tax and regulate.

A free enterprise system, backed by a limited government, built our country and can restore its greatness. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear that Tuesday night?

Click here for more information about the Chamber of Commerce’s plan for jobs and growth in 2012.

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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