Dear Mr. President: Let's hear about jobs, economy, wealth imbalance ... and 20 more issues

Yahoo News asked voters to share their most pressing concerns; here's a sample

Yahoo News

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Jobs, marijuana, Iran, immigration, drought and health care could be at the forefront in 2014. (AP)

Jobs, the economy, health care, Iran, the environment, education, Syria, gun control, gay marriage, domestic spying, marijuana… The laundry list of topics President Obama could tackle in his State of the Union address seems to grow each day.

Which of these issues do Americans want the president to talk about on Tuesday night? Yahoo News asked voters to share their hot-button concerns. Below is a sampling of what we received through Yahoo Contributor Network and Facebook. If you’re interested in joining the conversation, weigh in below or chime in on Facebook.

How can America balance freedom, security and privacy?

I hope President Obama explains that privacy is synonymous with freedom — that without privacy, there is no freedom.

And I hope Obama, who first promised America hope five years ago, can further deliver on that promise by reassuring us that, yes, we can have security without sacrificing our privacy and our freedom — and that security and freedom is not an either/or proposition, but rather intricate links that define the United States of America.

— Ray McFarland

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Why does U.S. foreign policy seem so reactive?

Detail our foreign policy. We seem to make it up as we go: whose side are we on in Egypt, what can be accomplished in Syria, and what we’ll do about the nations of the former Soviet Union where terrorists are bred. Is there a coordinated goal or does America simply react to world demands?

Also, talk about ending poverty. Do not talk about "income inequality." That is political gibberish. Tell us what will be proposed to end poverty. Funding the safety net doesn't count. That stabilizes lives, and that is good, but the safety net does not lead people out of poverty. Tell us what you will do to help lift our least fortunate.

— Phil Cole

How can college grads without jobs afford mandatory insurance?

As a recent college graduate, I would like the president to address the $1.2 trillion student debt crisis and the effects of that debt with regard to the Affordable Care Act. How are students or recent graduates expected to purchase health care from the health insurance marketplace when they are already burdened with this tremendous debt and have little to no disposable income?

— Amanda Howdeshell

How can we invest in better education for better jobs?

I'm currently working the same job I had before I earned a bachelor's degree, my father has been unemployed for more than 18 months, and my brother has been unemployed for longer.

I would like President Obama to discuss ways to get employers hiring again, perhaps through apprenticeship programs, government-sponsored internships, or just plain increasing government spending. I am currently considering going back to school in hopes of achieving a job that pays the bills, but am cowed by the price. How does Obama plan to control the costs of higher education to maintain an educated workforce?

— Isabeau Kisler

When will America focus again on entrepreneurship?

Will he mention where the jobs are? Between 1980 and 2005, all net new jobs were created by businesses younger than five years old, per the U.S. Census Bureau. In 22 of 29 years between 1977 and 2005, the economy would’ve lost jobs if not for the new employment created by start-ups, according to studies by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Young companies, not small businesses, are the engine of job creation and the economy.

Wouldn't it be great to hear President Obama talk a little about entrepreneurship, the current Startup Act in Congress and ways he and his administration are interacting with young companies? New companies in the United States are where the action is when it comes to innovation and job creation.

— Jason Grill

Can we revisit, revamp or repeal the ACA?

I hope President Obama discusses revising or repealing the Affordable Care Act. Although he apologized to Americans for their canceled policies, that doesn't remedy the fact that he and his administration knew millions wouldn't be able to keep their health insurance.

If it's difficult reading about Americans throughout the country losing their health insurance, it's heartbreaking to witness the devastation to one's friends as they scramble for coverage, under Obamacare, only to find the costs impossibly high.

Recently, a Burger King here in Baraga County, Mich., slashed the hours of its employees to avoid providing mandated health care to those working at least 30 hours per week. In a county that suffers an unemployment rate of 16 percent, working as little as 15 to 20 hours per week does little to alleviate financial strain, and puts employees in the position of finding their own health care with fingers crossed that it won't break the bank.

— Susan Durham

How can we justify record profits for the rich while so many are jobless?

What is he going to do about the fact that 91.8 million Americans are no longer in the workforce? Many companies are earning record profits, but there are no jobs.

— James Zerfoss

What’s next on comprehensive immigration reform?

This is often a topic that is put on the back burner or avoided altogether for the sake of the Hispanic vote. With the population of illegal immigrants rising to 11.7 million, this is more than a front-page topic. This issue ties directly into unemployment rates, health care, and other mainstream concerns on the political agenda.

If given the opportunity, I would ask the president what his immediate plans are. I would inquire if the path to citizenship would generate revenue or cost more through long-term government aid. This topic is important to not only me, but every American. All Americans pay taxes for government-run aid programs. Unfortunately, it is estimated that illegal immigrants cost Americans $113 billion in taxes at the federal and state level annually. With so many pending issues, fixing one may begin to mend the rest.

— Cody Talley

When we will stop blaming teachers?

I'd like to see Obama address … the state of education in the United States. Instead of finger-pointing, he can begin by telling the truth: American schools, when controlling for poverty, are doing a darned good job. As a result, the push for teacher accountability is unnecessary. He can address how performance pay for teachers, as currently implemented, doesn't work. He can acknowledge the new Common Core takes control from educators, and puts it in the hands of the corporations that wrote them. Maybe it's time to put it back.

— John Wellington

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