Presidents offer pie-in-the-sky visions in their State of the Union addresses. But if President Obama—and Congress—were willing to “roll up their sleeves” (another common State of the Union phrase) and work on some tangible good for Americans, Heritage experts have a few ideas.

The President is calling this his “year of action,” after all. Here are seven things he should work with Congress to do.

>>> Join us tonight for the State of the Union! We’ll be live-streaming the speech on The Foundry, and Heritage experts will be live-blogging their reactions.

1. Save Americans from skyrocketing energy bills. It’s time to reverse the war on coal and stop the greenhouse gas regulations that will drive up energy costs for families—with no noticeable climate benefit. People—especially low-income Americans—need affordable, reliable energy. The President’s climate regulations will drive up household electricity bills and destroy jobs across the country without making a dent in global temperatures.

2. Let students thrive and succeed through school choice. It’s not too late, but it is past time for the President to support school choice in the nation’s capital. The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program is helping children from low-income families succeed—yet every year, the Administration has tried to zero out funding for it. In fact, the D.C. program should inspire cities across America. When parents choose, students win, because school choice works.

3. Return the government to being of the people, by the people, and for the people. People (and their elected representatives), not the President or the courts, should make marriage policy in the states. The Obama Administration should instruct all agencies of the federal government to respect states’ authority over marriage and stop redefining marriage for a variety of federal purposes. And government should not violate the rights of those who stand for marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

4. Get moving on entitlement reform. It’s becoming increasingly clear that America’s runaway spending and debt are making it more difficult for young people to get ahead. How? By dragging down the economy. Washington’s leaders should put the budget on a path to balance—to control spending. This would spur economic growth—and that means creating jobs.

5. Be ready for anything. We can’t compromise on equipping our military for the 21st Century. When it comes to the enemies of America, we have to be ready for any and all threats. That means training, maintenance, and keeping our military No. 1. If our men and women in uniform are willing to give their lives for the rest of us, give them what they need to do their jobs.

6. Remember the First Amendment. It’s not too late to respect religious liberty. The Obama Administration should respect Americans’ freedom to choose health care that meets their families’ needs without violating their beliefs or subsidizing potentially life-ending drugs and procedures.

7. Stop food policies that hurt the poor. The U.S. has farm policies that actually drive up food prices, in part to help out special interests like sugar and dairy farmers. The government shouldn’t be involved in the food supply like this—especially when it hits low-income Americans the hardest.

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