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Obama delivers ‘a mixed bag’ lacking specifics


President Obama Tuesday night delivered his fourth State of the Union address.  In his speech to a joint session of Congress, the President laid out a broad framework for reigniting the economy in which, he said, "too many people still can’t find full-time employment."

President Obama's State of the Union speech from the official White House website.

The themes of the speech hearkened back to his reelection campaign -- especially his emphasis on reducing the unemployment rate and reviving an economy “that creates good, middle-class jobs." The President proposed a "Fix-It-First" program, with the goal of creating jobs, including many in the steel industry, to repair and upgrade infrastructure in the U.S.

"Investments in surface transportation and water infrastructure directly impact the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector, create demand for steel fabricated products and create valuable jobs, said Thomas J. Gibson, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI).


Gibson took issue with the President's speech in several key areas, especially those concerning trade, energy independence and tax reform, issues vital to the North American steel industry. Gibson decried a lack of specifics from the President on how to reach the goals laid out in his address.

"The speech was a mixed bag of admirable goals with uncertain outcomes and was missing some important details," Gibson said.

Read the AISI 2013 Policy Agenda.

The Washington Post’s lead editorial pointed to the upcoming “sequestration” deadline and Obama’s plan – or lack thereof – to avoid deep budget cuts in areas like the military and his cherished domestic programs. “His plan to avoid it basically repeated the offer of a ‘balanced approach’ — unspecified tax hikes and spending cuts — which Republicans have already rejected.”

“The polls show voters think spending is a bigger problem than lack of revenues,” the Wall Street Journal editorializes (subscription required for full article). WSJ also challenges Obama’s champion-of-the-middle class stance noting that “for all his bragging Tuesday night of economic progress, his policies have produced a recovery with a mere 2% growth and falling middle-class incomes.”

Overall Gibson was “encouraged” by Obama’s proposals that benefit the steel industry, but remained “disappointed that he (Obama) did not lay out concrete plans to achieve the goals” outlined in the speech.

“We will continue to work with the Administration and Congress to turn the rhetoric into action,” Gibson said.

Read AISI's reaction to President Obama's State of the Union address.

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