Obama: Businesses have responsibility to help economy grow

President Obama called on U.S. businesses to do more to help grow the economy, saying that while the unemployment rate is getting better and jobs are being added, the U.S. needs “to get there faster.”

“Businesses have a responsibility, too,” said Obama in his weekly address on Saturday. “If we make America the best place to do business, businesses should make their mark in America. They should set up shop here, and hire our workers, and pay decent wages, and invest in the future of this nation. That’s their obligation.”


Obama said he planned to deliver that message to the Chamber of Commerce on Monday, along with his administration’s commitment to work with the powerful business lobby. The White House has negotiated for more than two months about when to hold the meeting with the Chamber, which has come out in opposition to several of Obama’s major policies, such as the healthcare measure and Wall Street reform.

The message is that “government and businesses have mutual responsibilities; and that if we fulfill these obligations together, it benefits us all,” said Obama. “Our workers will succeed. Our nation will prosper. And America will win the future in this century just like we did in the last.”

Obama resounded his push to “win the future” in his Saturday speech, saying that the country needs to “out-educate, out-innovate, and out-build the rest of the world.” The president lauded students and scientists at Penn State University for their research in the field of clean energy, as well as a Maryland window company and a North Carolina lighting company for making profits off of environmentally friendly products.

“All we did for these companies was provide some tax credits and financing opportunities,” said Obama. “And that’s what we want to do going forward, so that it’s profitable for American businesses to sell the discoveries made by the scientists at Penn State and other hubs of innovation.  

“If businesses sell these discoveries – if they start making windows and insulation and buildings that save more energy – they will hire more workers. And that’s how Americans will prosper. That’s how we’ll win the future.”

The White House’s continued focus on growing jobs comes as the nation’s latest unemployment numbers were released on Friday. In January, the unemployment rate dropped to 9 percent. It was 9.4 percent in December, and 9.8 percent in November.

Job growth, however, remained more placid, with the economy adding only 36,000 jobs, which is short of expectations and is likely to spur more questions about why the labor market is not improving more rapidly as other economic indicators suggest an improving economy.

After his talk with the Chamber next week, Obama is planning to travel to Marquette, Mich., where he is expected to use the small port city as an example of how access to high-speed broadband Internet has caused local businesses to boom as they increase their international exports.

Obama has called for an increase in access to the “next generation of high-speed wireless coverage” over the next five years.

“This isn't about faster Internet or fewer dropped calls,” Obama said in his State of the Union address earlier this year. “It's about connecting every part of America to the digital age. It's about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world.”