Middle-class advocates praise Obama speech

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Advocates for Social Security and a higher minimum wage praised U.S. President Obama's State of the Union speech and urged him to protect the middle class.

"The president said he was putting jobs and the economy front and center tonight -- and that's exactly what he did by calling for a minimum wage increase," Christine L. Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, said in a statement Tuesday.


"President Obama's remarks tonight show he understands that a higher minimum wage is key to getting the economy back on track for working people and the middle class. ... A minimum wage increase will stimulate consumer demand and help drive economic growth for the people who most need it in America -- workers," Owens said.

Max Richtman, president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, said in a statement Obama "is right to keep his focus on economic recovery, including job creation and economic investment."

"His promise to restore the basic bargain that built this country must include preserving and strengthening the nation's retirement and health security programs, Social Security and Medicare," Richtman said. "There are Medicare reforms that can save money such as reducing taxpayer subsidies to prescription drug companies as the president proposed tonight. ...


"We urge the president to stick to his previously stated views that Social Security's long-term solvency should not be a part of the deficit debate since it's not a driver of our deficits."

John Arensmeyer, founder of the Small Business Majority, said Obama "addressed many of small business owners' key concerns, including a responsible resolution of our tax and budget issues, comprehensive immigration reform and continuing to grow the economy through innovation and investments in clean energy."

"We're pleased President Obama highlighted the important role small businesses play in our economy during Tuesday's address. ... The policies the president outlined are ones for which small business owners have expressed strong support.

"We wish the president had emphasized the need for full implementation of our new healthcare law, which is key to small business success in 2013. Our extensive opinion polling demonstrates strong small business support for key provisions in the law aimed at reducing costs and creating more avenues for entrepreneurs to secure affordable coverage," Arensmeyer said.

Alex Flint, senior vice president of governmental affairs at the Nuclear Energy Institute, said nuclear energy is essential to economic recovery.

"As the president and Congress work to return the economy to sound footing, it is worth remembering that sustained economic growth will require affordable, reliable energy supplies," Flint said.


"For decades now, nuclear energy -- with its added advantage of being the nation's leading low-carbon source of electricity -- has been one of the pillars of our electric sector. It is imperative that nuclear energy facilities continue to play a key role in the mix of electricity sources for U.S. energy, environmental and economic goals to be achieved."

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