News Column

Chamber Sends Obama a Message: Focus on Recovery

Feb 12, 2013

Marie Szaniszlo

Massachusetts business experts have a long wish list for what President Obama should address in tonight's State of the Union speech -- everything from how to create new jobs to how to avoid the upcoming federal budget cuts known as sequestration.

"How does he propose to stimulate our sluggish economic growth and accelerate job creation?" asked Paul Guzzi, head of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. "How will he mitigate the adverse impact of spending cuts, which will have a direct impact on the Massachusetts economy, particularly in the areas of defense and research and development? And how does he propose to achieve immigration reform and ensure that we provide access to and retain the best international talent?"

David Tuerck, executive director of the Beacon Hill Institute, a conservative think tank, said he hopes the president will talk about tax reform -- not tax increases -- and avoid talking about green energy "and other pursuits that are not going to grow the economy."

"He needs to make a convincing argument he'll cut the deficit, but I have no hope he'll do any of that," he said. "I think it's going to be more of the same, a blind unwillingness to recognize that his policies have contributed to the stagnation of the economy."

Robert Nakosteen, an economics professor at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said the economic recovery may just be gaining strength. Housing is stabilizing and the job market is slowly improving, he said, and households are less indebted than in recent years, although partly due to defaults and bankruptcies.

"We are poised for a faster recovery in the coming year," he said. "If the president is going to talk about the economy, then he needs to emphasize how the coming sequester, just two weeks or so away, can really derail the recovery. You will never get a strong middle class without a strong economic recovery. A strong recovery, at the moment, is much more important than the deficit."

Source: (c)2013 the Boston Herald. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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