Business Wonders About Promises in Obama Speech

Thursday, 27 Jan 2011 04:33 PM

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CEOs interviewed by the Wall Street Journal welcomed the kindler-gentler tone that President Barack Obama struck toward businesses in his State of the Union address on Tuesday. But many doubted he CEOs,President Barack Obama,State of the Union address,business,investment,corporate taxes,research and development,speech,tone,Wall Street Journalcan deliver on his promises to foster growth through innovation and to simplify the corporate tax code.

Streamlining taxes “was a wonderful idea [in the speech], but there’s no free lunch,” said John Chen, CEO of software developer Sybase. Anthony Guzzi, CEO of construction services company Emcor, said the president “gave a sound bite” on taxes “but should have been more specific” because businesses right now are “afraid to invest in the U.S. in any substantial way.”

Still, chief executives liked not hearing the president rail at “fat-cat bankers” as he has in the past.

One area where some CEOs agreed the government can do good is by funding research and development, and President Obama promised more. “This is where the government adds tremendous value,” said Marc Benioff, CEO of business-software provider Salesforce.com.

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