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State of the Union Preview: Five Questions the President Must Answer

The nation will tune in tonight to hear President Obama discuss the State of the Union. As is always the case with this solemn occasion, Americans from every walk of life will listen closely as the president outlines the challenges we face and offers his ideas for leading the country toward a brighter future. With millions searching for work, the national debt rising, and a broken education system failing our children, there is much to discuss. Here are five important questions the president should address:

Question 1: Mr. President, do you have a plan that leads toward a balanced budget, and if so, when can the American people see it?

Four out of the last five years, President Obama has refused to deliver his budget proposal to Congress on deadline. And when the president has finally submitted his budget plan to Congress, each proposal has been full of more spending, taxes, and borrowing. The American people know the importance of setting a budget to ensure they live within their means. Washington should do no less. Now that the president finally agrees we have a spending problem, it’s time he worked with Congress to put our nation on the path toward a responsible, balanced budget.

Question 2: Mr. President, will you admit that a convoluted waiver scheme has created more confusion and uncertainty in K-12 classrooms?

Instead of working with Congress to reauthorize the country’s K-12 education law (known as No Child Left Behind), President Obama chose to rewrite the law through executive fiat. In recent weeks, a growing number of education leaders have come forward to express their concerns about the president’s waiver scheme, stating the waivers haven’t fixed the problems in the system – they have only left families and educators tied to a failing law. The president must acknowledge the problems with his waiver scheme and pledge to work with Congress to reauthorize the law.

Question 3: Mr. President, isn’t it time you worked with the Senate to fix a dysfunctional National Labor Relations Board?

Our nation needs a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that functions properly and acts responsibly. However, last year President Obama chose to ignore constitutionally prescribed limits on executive power and unilaterally install three individuals to the NLRB in an effort to further advance the priorities of union bosses. The president has run roughshod over the Constitution and damaged the integrity of the board. He owes it to our nation’s workforce to set aside politics and commit to working with the U.S. Senate to seat qualified nominees.

Question 4: Mr. President, can you finally provide some detail on last year’s request for one job training program?

The federal government administers roughly 47 separate job training and employment programs across nine federal agencies. The complicated and confusing bureaucracy can prevent workers from receiving the support and training they need to compete for jobs. In his 2012 State of the Union Address, President Obama recognized these challenges, stating, “I want to cut through the maze of confusing training programs, so that from now on, [workers] have one program, one website, and one place to go for all the information and help that they need.” But instead of providing details on this plan, the president offered several conflicting job training proposals in the months that followed. The president should clarify his plans to the American people, and pledge to work with congressional leaders to revamp the nation’s job training system.

Question 5: Mr. President, why is your health care law forcing some employers to reduce full-time workers to part-time hours?

As our nation struggled with an economic crisis and high unemployment, the president and his Democrat allies enacted a job destroying government takeover of health care. For the first time, employers with 50 or more full-time workers are required to provide government approved health insurance or face higher taxes. The law defines ‘full-time’ as workers with 30 hours or more in a work week. To escape the law’s punitive policies, employers are forced to consider cutting hours or laying off staff. And while this mandate doesn’t kick in for another year, guidance released by the IRS suggests an employer would be well served to start planning now. Nearly eight million Americans are already working part-time hours because they cannot find a full-time job. They deserve to know why the president’s health care law promises to make the nation’s jobs crisis worse.

No doubt there are more questions that people wish to ask. On issues affecting the nations’ schools and workplaces, these questions are a good place to start.

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