PHCC Analysis: 2016 State of the Union
Jan. 13, 2016
By Mark Riso, Vice President of Government Relations
The President of the United States is required by the Constitution to provide Congress with “information of the State of the Union and recommend for their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." The significance of this annual address should not be understated—yet its perceived value over the years has diminished. It is often thought of as a road map in terms of the thoughts, views, perspectives, and opinions of the Administration, with little shelf life. President Obama’s final State of the Union last night, however, was a look back on his two terms of his Presidency, and a glimpse into the future for the American people.
Here’s an interesting fact: Barack Obama is the fifth two-term American president since 1951 (after ratification of the 22nd Amendment limiting Presidents to two terms) to deliver a State of the Union address during his eighth year in the White House. That said, last night’s State of the Union was, for the most part, predictable for an outgoing president. As is the case with most national addresses, the speech was packed with political themes, policy issues, and was certainly intended to set the stage for November’s presidential and congressional elections.
The address touched on gun control, energy efficiency, executive orders, education, immigration, foreign affairs, technological change, social issues and terrorism. It was an attempt to make Americans feel good about where we are as a nation, calm nervousness attributable to terrorism, and inspire hope that the country is headed in the right direction. It introduced a “moon shot” campaign for continued cancer research, and it even congratulated Congress on passing a responsible budget toward the end of 2015 (something that has become all too rare on Capitol Hill). The President also acknowledged certain tax provisions that were extended which benefit business, and that PHCC supported. At one point, the President stated “I think there are outdated regulations that need to be changed, and there’s red tape that needs to be cut,” a drum PHCC has been beating on for years.
“The Power of Example”
Not surprisingly, the speech did not include any legislative proposals. However, while there was no specific mention of some of the key issues that PHCC is advocating right now—like the skills gap, workforce development and unfair federal regulations—a key theme particularly hit home for PHCC: the president’s reference to how important the “power of example” is to influencing positive change. That strategy is very much aligned with PHCC’s advocacy efforts.
As an example, when our PHCC members go to Capitol Hill for the 2016 Legislative Conference (May 18-19, 2016), they will be providing Congress with real-life examples of how to solve problems in our nation. They will be offering our collective expertise that applies to business, job creation, and helping to paint a positive picture as to the great career opportunities in this industry. What members need to always keep in mind…is that they are not merely offering solutions, but offering tangible approaches to problems for which Congress is asking for our help.
Many will argue about the economic health of the nation. Depending on whom you talk to and/or believe, the economy will always be at the center of our collective focus. However, no one in Washington will deny that small business is the key to economic recovery and sustained economic prosperity.
In my mind, when the President stated the “power of example,” he, in essence conveyed the true sense of…”Best People. Best Practices.®”.