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State of the Union: A little financial substance … but only a little

Another State of the Union address has come and gone, leaving us — as usual — with more sound bites than substance.

Still, President Obama threw us business / finance types an occasional bone, outlining a few interesting initiatives that, when all is said and done, may or may not amount to much.

How’s that for specifics? Right in line with the State of the Union, I’d say.

Anyway, for what it’s worth:

  • The president vowed to use an executive order to raise the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors to $10.10 an hour. He also urged employers to act on their own to raise wages and challenged Congress to pass legislation that would raise the nation’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
  • He also raised the financial literacy flag by calling for the Treasury Department to create a new savings bond called “MyRA” specifically for workers who don’t have access to pensions and 401(k)s. As usual, the details are a bit fuzzy, but here’s what the president said: “MyRA guarantees a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in. And if this Congress wants to help, work with me to fix an upside-down tax code that gives big tax breaks to help the wealthy save, but does little to nothing for middle-class Americans. Offer every American access to an automatic IRA on the job, so they can save at work just like everyone in this chamber can.”
  • The president called for an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit. “Right now,” he said, “it helps about half of all parents at some point. But I agree with Republicans like Sen. Rubio that it doesn’t do enough for single workers who don’t have kids.”
  • Obama called for an end to “wasteful, complicated (tax) loopholes” by lowering corporate tax rates “for businesses that create jobs here at home.” No word on how that will get done … but it sounds good. I guess that’s the point.
  • The president also demanded “a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries” and encourages investment in alternative energies.

So there you have it. The talking heads now have the floor, and a lot of this stuff — God help us — is in the hands lawmakers.

What are the odds on anything getting done?


Bill Sheridan