"The declining deficit and the president's lack of focus on the nation's fiscal situation has lulled many into a false sense of security, but the fact remains that the debt is at historically high levels and is slated to continue to grow unsustainably later this decade," said Maya MacGuineas, head of the Campaign to Fix the Debt.
"Rationalizing our spending and dealing with the longer-term debt problems would help free up the space for the kind of investments in infrastructure, education, and worker training that President Obama called for tonight; investments that could help add jobs and promote economic mobility. What we need though is a comprehensive economic growth strategy that includes smart investments and reforms partnered with measures to get the long-term debt under control--otherwise the looming debt will continue to threaten our future prosperity.
"Every day that we fail to deal with the long-term drivers of the debt -- including out-of-control entitlement spending and trillions of dollars of tax loopholes -- is a day lost in making these changes in a smart and thoughtful way that would help grow the economy. While it may be politically convenient for politicians to try to avoid facing real budgetary tradeoffs, failing to do so puts at risk the economy and our citizenry. Tonight the President missed an important opportunity to get the process of confronting these issues under way."
John Arensmeyer, founder & chief executive officer of the Small Business Majority, said many of the policies Obama outlined are ones small-business owners support.
"First, as our scientific opinion polling shows, two-thirds of small employers support increasing the minimum wage as a way to bolster our economy and decrease reliance on taxpayer funded assistance. Consumer demand is key to small business success, and the best way to create that demand is to increase the amount of disposable income people have to spend. And, we look forward to lawmakers acting on the president's call to close tax loopholes as part of smart tax reform and to growing our economy through investments in manufacturing, infrastructure, broadband and research and development.
"Additionally, small businesses support passing comprehensive immigration reform. Our polling found small business owners recognize our current immigration system isn't working and know that fixing it will help them foster a better workforce and encourage immigrant entrepreneurship. What's more, small businesses stand behind policies to spur innovation via a clean energy economy and measures to address the destructive economic effects of climate change.
"The president's speech tonight highlighted many of the issues small employers see as vital to our economic success. We look forward to seeing action from lawmakers on these policies in the coming months," Arensmeyer said.
Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said in a statement, "Improving opportunities for American families requires innovation and action and I plan to work with my colleagues to build on the work we've done in my Defense Appropriations Subcommittee to reverse the devastating cuts to federally funded research and development and grow these programs for years to come."
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., released a statement saying: "I am gratified that the President made jobs and the economy the central focus of his State of the Union address. Despite recent economic progress, far too many Americans are still struggling to get back on their feet. If you work hard and play by the rules, you should have the opportunity to succeed. I was encouraged by the President's emphasis on worker training programs, hiring incentives and pay equity to ensure workers have the chance to get ahead. Responsible development of natural gas is something I have pushed for a long time and the President's proposal will help create jobs in Pennsylvania while at the same time decreasing our dependence on foreign oil. I was also glad to see that the President underscored his commitment to early education and research to ensure our nation's long-term global competitiveness. I look forward to working with Republicans and Democrats to advance these efforts along with additional job creation measures like my bipartisan small business bill so that we can grow the economy and strengthen the middle class."
Former Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, said: "In tonight's State of the Union Address, the president emphasized the importance of working with our trading partners to bolster investment, encourage economic development, and create jobs around the world. We support the president's vision and join him in working toward the completion of a high-standard, commercially meaningful Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, and the passage of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act.
"The film and television industry is one of the few that consistently generates a positive balance of trade in virtually every market we enter. A strong TPP agreement will allow U.S. creative content to expand into foreign markets, fostering legitimate digital trade and therefore generating enormous benefit to both creators and consumers. The TPA establishes a clear path for accomplishing these priorities, and we look forward to working with the President and members of Congress to continue bringing the highest quality movies and television shows to audiences across the globe," Dodd said.