Dawn Sweeney, the president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, issued the following statement in response to the President’s State of the Union address:

“The National Restaurant Association, the nation’s second-largest private sector employer, welcomes President Obama’s efforts to support small business, job creation, and our nation’s economic recovery. We support the President’s call for tax incentives to help spur the economy and generate additional jobs, including the extension of expired provisions that allow businesses an enhanced deduction for expensing and ‘bonus’ depreciation for capital expenditures. This will encourage restaurants to invest and create jobs. A tax credit for new hires will further encourage restaurateurs to hire additional workers.

“During these challenging economic times, restaurants—many of which are small businesses—continue to have difficulty securing access to credit. We are encouraged by the President’s proposal to allow a portion of unspent TARP money to be used to directly support small business lending. His call for a continued elimination of fees and continued increase in guarantees for SBA loans through 2010 would help restaurant businesses secure access to credit.

“Our industry of nearly 13 million workers lost jobs in 2009, but employment growth is expected to resume in 2010 and to expand by 1.3 million jobs by 2020, according to our 2010 Restaurant Industry Forecast. The scale of the industry’s upturn depends largely on consumer confidence. Until personal disposable income increases and general unemployment levels fall, economic recovery will be prolonged. Consequently, we strongly support efforts that lead to measurable, overall results in these two critical areas.

“On health care reform, it is essential to the restaurant industry that the protections added to the Senate version of this legislation be included if the Congress enacts any reform.

“Finally, as an industry devoted to nourishment and well-being, we appreciate the efforts of the President and the First Lady to address the troubling problem of childhood obesity. We look forward to working to advance voluntary, practical solutions to this issue while protecting consumer choice, the health and vitality of all our people, and the U.S. economy.”

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