Anchor: Obama should focus on jobs

Emmy Award-winning “Today” show anchor and “Rock Center With Brian Williams” correspondent Natalie Morales began her on-air career at New York’s News 12. Prior to “Today,” Morales was a reporter for MSNBC. Her award-winning reporting includes coverage of the 2009 presidential inauguration, Hurricane Katrina, the 2004, 2006 and 2010 Olympics and the Chilean miner rescue.

Morales is the daughter of Air Force Lt. Col. Mario Morales Jr. and spent her childhood living in multiple countries including Panama, Brazil, Spain and Taiwan (where she was born). Morales speaks Spanish and Portuguese and is an avid runner, having completed five marathons.

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ROBIN BRONK: If you had five minutes in the Oval Office with President Obama, what would you discuss with him? What issue would you like him to know about?

NATALIE MORALES: Five minutes is hardly enough time, but I think one issue I have always wondered about is why, as a country that places families first, do we lag so far behind other industrialized nations when it comes to ensuring rights for new parents or when taking care of an elderly member of the family?

The Family Leave Act of 1993 — the first and only policy establishing some sort of rights for employees — seems outdated, given how much the traditional family and the workplace has changed. By the way, France was 80 years ahead of us in establishing a family leave policy. In the U.S., the policy varies by state but for the most part leave is allowed for up to three months, and that time off is unpaid.

Granted, employers have different policies, but as a nation, we hold the dubious distinction of being among only four countries — Liberia, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland; not exactly known for being top economies — not having a national law granting paid time off. In this economy, when jobs are already scarce, I know many people are afraid to start families because they can’t afford to lose their pay, and sometimes even their jobs. Granted, California is one of a handful of states that has evolved its policy, allowing for some paid family leave, as well as parental leave for same-sex parents. 

As a mom of two kids, I’m one of the lucky ones who works for a great company that values its families and its employees, but not everyone is so lucky. 

RB: If you could ask the president to make one issue a priority for the first 90 days of his second term, what would it be? 

NM: Since the president has been reelected, I would say what everyone is saying: Jobs. The economy. The deficit. Let’s get America back to the superpower that it once was. 

RB: What piece of advice would you give the president as he settles into his second term in office?

NM: Because this is his last term, I would say to go out with a bang and make sure he is proud at the end of each day with how he has made our country better.

RB: If you were going to send the president to one of your favorite places in the United States for one day, where would that be? Why?

NM: I would send him for a run around the loop at Central Park. I always do my best thinking while running, and Central Park offers the best people-watching there is. And, as fit as the president is, I imagine he would enjoy and benefit greatly from a head-clearing run.

RB: What piece of music would you recommend that President Obama add to his collection? Why?

NM: Anything Coldplay or U2 ... in fact, it’s great running music! 

RB: Would you ever consider a political career?

NM: No way, I just like to talk about it and report on it. 

Robin Bronk is CEO of The Creative Coalition — the leading national, nonprofit, nonpartisan public advocacy organization of the entertainment industry. Bronk is a frequent speaker on the role of the entertainment industry in public advocacy campaigns and represents The Creative Coalition and its legislative agenda before members of Congress and the White House. She produced the feature film “Poliwood,” airing on Showtime, and edited the recently published book Art & Soul. Bronk pens this weekly column with assistance from Risa Kotek.