The State of Our Union: Challenged?

January 10th, 2011

President Obama delivers 2010 State of the Union Address

The State of the Union address is slated for January 25th this year. If you google “state of the union address advice for the president” you’ll certainly find plenty of articles, essays, open letters, blog posts and comments for President Obama to consider. I guess one more blog post with advice won’t hurt, so here I go:

Traditionally, the President opens the address in a strong voice with the statement, “The state of our our union is strong” …followed by the happy applause of all present. Frankly, I think that sends the wrong message, and it’s disingenuous. Most people realize today that the state of our union is challenged or even tenuous.

Our country has made some decisions in the last couple of years to spend trillions of dollars on bailouts, incentives and stimulus packages, and even if our economy starts to turn around, we are still going to be financially challenged: strapped with an enormous and dangerous deficit. This is a reality, and it is a reality that puts our UNION at risk. This is not just a financial matter. It has consequences in every sector of our society.

So, what are we going to do about it?!

I say that NOW is the time to turn that bailout and stimulus money into an investment, and challenge the American people to shoot for the moon. Our economy doesn’t need shoppers, consumers and jobs. We need innovators, entrepreneurs and investments. We need people who make things. We need more smart people who want to start businesses and develop new inventions to make the world a better place. We need to continue to be the world magnet for smart, young people with ideas, and then we need to make it easy for them to STAY here and succeed.

The specifics could include tax overhaul, new investment incentives in new and emerging technology (cleantech, biotech and life science, nanotech and more), immigration reform,  as well as education system overhaul (please!!), entrepreneurial programs (more lemonade stands!) … and let’s move forward while setting the bar high on hydrofracking for natural gas, land-based and off-shore wind energy, smart grid build-out and expansion and broadband access for all. We need big, bold projects that are difficult.

Ok, the Brits and Germans have taken an approach to cut back spending and reduce deficits. That’s operationally sound. But there’s another way to handle this situation and entrepreneurs know it well: INVEST and GROW! Think of it this way: America is the young, brash entrepreneur who has just maxed out the credit cards, believing in the business. Yes, it’s a little crazy, but that’s what many entrepreneurs do. They create a situation where they HAVE to grow and succeed. Then they turn that fear into a motivator.

So, Mr. President, I think the state of our union is challenged…. But that’s all right! Great challenges have made our country great; that’s when we’re at our best. That’s what makes our union strong.

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