AEO’s Reaction to the President’s State of the Union Speech

January 29, 2014 – In his State of the Union address, President Obama articulated a key theme that likely resonated with Main Street entrepreneurs and the organizations that support them, when he said, “Opportunity is who we are.”  All businesses in our country, from the self-employed to the mega-corporations, have two things in common: they started small and took a chance, hoping to create a job and generate income security.

The Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) is encouraged by the President’s call to action to help our nation’s entrepreneurs and small businesses.  “We know where to start: the best measure of opportunity is access to a good job,” the President said.  We are hopeful, however, that the President and his Administration will move beyond the outdated model of employment and realize that today millions of Americans are creating jobs for themselves.  In fact, AEO’s report  Bigger than You Think found that starting a microbusiness is often a necessary and an increasingly viable option.  Microbusinesses create a variety of positive social impacts by providing income, wealth-creation opportunities, and a path to upward mobility – in other words, the very definitions of opportunity.

We also support the President’s proposal to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for workers without children.  An important tax credit for low-income workers, the EITC allows entrepreneurs to reinvest their EITC credit back into their microbusiness.  Each year, the EITC benefits roughly 15 million families and provides an average tax cut of about $800.  Similarly, expanding retirement savings options for working individuals is a smart idea. AEO supports the President’s “myRA” retirement plan proposal.

With respect to the President’s call to conduct a review of the nation’s job training programs, we will continue to urge the Administration and Congress to address a shortcoming that discourages job training centers from offering entrepreneurship training. A simple fix – to allow these centers to count self-employment as a successful employment outcome – is all that is needed to allow entrepreneurial training to be offered at no extra cost. AEO will be investigating whether this change could be achieved by Executive Order, something the President made clear he will not shy away from.

For more than 22 years, AEO and its 450 member and partner network have advocated for policy solutions that help entrepreneurs – especially in underserved communities – access the tools they need.  AEO will continue to work with Congress and the Administration to promote the interests of our nation’s microbusinesses and push for policies that encourage entrepreneurship.

To read the full transcript of the President’s State of the Union speech, please click here.