They want to hear about jobs, economic security and health care reform.
That's what Long Islanders said when asked two questions this week:
What are their concerns right now?
And what do they want President Barack Obama to say Wednesday night, when he delivers his first State of the Union address?
The president will be speaking to a nation buffeted by recession and a generally sour, dour mood that has tarnished the glow of his early months in office.
He'll be met with skepticism, as expressed by Alexandra Boccio, 20, of Commack, who supported him in the election because he said he'd bring the troops home: "It's hard to think of anything he could say to change my mind about the economy, health care and the war because he's already said so much and I haven't seen any of that happen yet."
And with forbearance: "People want things, want change, to happen very quickly, which just isn't a reality," said Adam Goldberg, 43, of Franklin Square. "I'm very patient with him. He's got a tremendous amount on his plate."
Here are responses from 10 Long Islanders:
"He got us out of the banking crisis. [Now] I think he needs to go back to the campaign message, which was jobs. I'd really like to hear him say he understands Republican concerns, but he's not going to give up on health care reform. . . . I'm starting to see the economy come back slowly. He has to make that case, and I think he can. . . . He needs to get back out there with the people again."
"Right now the economy is the biggest thing on my mind. If you ask anyone what's on their mind, it's the loss of jobs, the increase in the cost of living, there is no job security. It's a lot to be concerned about. I want to hear from him by what measure is the economy getting better? I'm a small-business man and I don't see it. Credit is very tight, so it's hard to borrow money so you can't buy inventory. I think he spent too much time on health care. If there are no jobs, how would you pay for health insurance? I'm looking for him to explain how he is going to make it better for small businesses and create more jobs. For us , it's impossible to get loans."
Nancy Levine, late 40s, Roslyn Heights, works in office of husband, an endodontist:
"I want to hear what he's going to do about health care reform. It's in serious trouble. . . . My husband is a small business [man] and our insurance went up by $5,000 last year. . . . We're supposed to be the upper middle class and it's getting unaffordable for us. I want to hear what's going on with terrorism. I'm very nervous about it. I didn't vote for Obama. Everyone thought he would come in and do magic, but I'm not surprised at what is happening. I don't blame it on him. Anyone would have had a hard time, but he's inexperienced. . . . He's got to talk about what he's going to do and he's got to get something done."
"I went to the inauguration and after that I expected to hear so much good, but unfortunately, so much bad came instead. I don't blame him, but I do want to see him make more of an effort with this health care stuff, and bringing our troops home. The economy . . . it's very hard to find a place that's affordable. What I would like to hear him say is he'll do what he can to make living in America more desirable. It's hard to think of anything he could say to change my mind about the economy and health care and war because he's already said so much and I haven't seen any of that happen yet."
Jim Leonard, 53, Lake Ronkonkoma, construction worker:
"I'm not too happy with what's going on. People are out of work, taxes going up. I work two jobs just to make ends meet. It's been like that since my daughter went to college in 1999, and it's not getting any better. The truth: He inherited a horrible situation, but we're not going to help it just by throwing money away."
Nicole Fraser, 35, Amityville, hospital patient registrar:
"It's going to take more time to rebuild [the economy], and the things he's doing now will take time. It will work. He should reassure the people. . . . People want it to be quick and fast and they need to be more patient. I don't really understand the entire concept of health care reform. I'm new to this and to fully understand I would need to educate myself on what was going on before, and he needs to explain his vision in a simple format."
Elvis Nunez, 29, Freeport, in-hospital Medicaid specialist:
"I'm really getting into the federal budgets, and it concerns me. I'm wondering how we'll be able to pay for things. I see regular Joes who lose their jobs, collect unemployment but don't qualify for Medicaid, and can't afford to cover their medical bills, so I definitely support the health care bill. But I'm concerned with overall spending. I agree with tax credits to help the middle class. I am the middle class. . . . He needs to assist local businesses and create incentives for more jobs."
"People complain about the bailouts, but they were necessary. The economy is in a bad place right now: People are losing jobs, they're outsourcing jobs overseas, the dollar has weakened and we're not creating any new industries in this country to get people jobs. . . . He needs to focus on getting affordable health care for everyone. I make too much for assistance, but I don't make enough to pay for private health care. I want and need health insurance. How can he have spent too much time on health care when there is not yet a passable bill? It was time well spent. People have to understand that you have to put the work in; change is not going to happen overnight."
"I think the State of The union is confusion. They took their eye off the ball and spent too much time on this health care issue and not enough time on the basics. I think the economy and the wars are the most unsettling situations now. As for the bailouts: I think they had no choice. I think both sides of the aisle had to do what they felt was best and they had to act quickly. Time will tell. I can't accuse anyone of not doing the right thing. Who knows what's the right thing to do? When the bottom falls out like that, you do the best you can."
"The economy is going to take a long time to turn around. It's very hard to borrow money right now - for some, I would say it's impossible, and that is especially bad for small businesses. A lot of people don't have jobs, so they don't spend, and businesses fail and there is a loss of tax revenue. The bad economy feeds off itself. Obama really needs to talk about jobs. I can't say that enough. With credit still frozen, it's going to take a lot longer than people think for things to look better. But we need to give it time. I don't necessarily believe in bailing out private companies, but I guess it was necessary. Some people would have lost their jobs, but no one is coming to bail me out. That's just not the American way - to bail out companies. Both sides did it, so who am I to say what should be done."
>> TALK ABOUT IT: Join Newsday political columnist Dan Janison for a live chat with Long Islanders during and after tonight's State of the Union address -- click in below to send yourself a reminder to attend