Posts Tagged ‘2016 State of the Union Address’

The 2016 State of the Union Address

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016
2016 State of the Union

2016 State of the Union

I just finished watching last night’s State of the Union address on my DVR. I was disappointed with the President’s remarks, which is unfortunate because on certain issues that are relevant to my business, President Obama has delivered. However, the overall content and tone of his remarks failed to capture that. With a few exceptions, the President has appointed highly capable people and largely left them to get on with their jobs. The two administrators of the U.S. Small Business Administration – Karen Mills in the President’s first term and currently, Maria Contreras-Sweet, have done excellent work in improving the service delivery and responsiveness of the SBA. FEMA, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, is in dramatically better shape than it was eight years ago. The President appointed a highly-skilled administrator who had on-the-ground disaster experience in Florida. FEMA has promoted initiatives, such as Whole Community Recovery, and prioritized the need for businesses to get back to delivering services in order to enable post-disaster recovery.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is in remarkably better shape since the President took office. When I was running my first venture, I submitted a trademark application for the name of the business only to learn, more than a year later, that another company had filed the rights to the same name just two weeks prior. I could have saved myself a lot of time and expense had I known that – as a requirement of the application, you must search existing and pending marks. But because there was a nine-month delay between the time an applicant filed a name for trademark protection and the time that application appeared in the searchable trademark database, I could not have known that someone else had beaten my filing date by just twelve days. With my current business, I have registered marks with a much more streamlined process. Given the need for entrepreneurs to protect our intellectual property, an efficient USPTO is critical to our economic growth and here I tip my hat to the President for having delivered. Intellectual property law is reportedly a strong personal interest of the President, who is a law school graduate. On the occasion of one media interview in the Oval Office, he showed the reporter that he had replaced the stodgy artwork in the office with framed patent applications from Thomas Edison and others.

And while European policymakers have been developing frameworks for addressing climate risk for some time now, President Obama was the first U.S. president to explicitly address the threats with tangible policy proposals. That was what I found so disappointing about last night’s speech. The President forfeited an opportunity for a thoughtful presentation to educate the American people about the impacts of climate change on the increasing frequency and severity of weather-related hazards, the economic impacts of climate change on the poorest and most vulnerable communities or even the national security implications of the consequences of drought and flooding for geopolitical changes. Instead, he spoke of the issue in a way that suggested this was another partisan jab. He could have referenced that, against remarkable odds, nearly 200 countries reached a landmark climate change agreement in Paris last month, one that largely came about because of effective U.S. diplomacy in engaging China in this issue. He could have been Presidential, stepped above the fray and said words to the effect of “I hope my successor – whoever he or she is – will seize the opportunity to build upon the progress we have made in reaching this agreement…” The last State of the Union speech in President Obama’s administration was too important an opportunity to squander. Sadly, that is what he did last night.