9:47 AM CDT, October 17, 2012
There is something about the lemming-like quality of the public discourse that renders presidential debates into these circular talking point showdowns in which not much is illuminated and nothing important challenged. Here following are some obvious questions about the great challenges of our times that one of those “undecided voters” or, you know, a professional journalist could or should have asked Mitt Romney or Barack Obama.
• Governor Romney, do you believe that human activity is causing climate change? If so, what would you do about it? If not, cite your sources and what made you change your mind from when you were governor of Massachusetts?
• President Obama, the weakest sector of the economy continues to be the housing market, and with millions of foreclosures still on the docket, it looks like we have a long way to go. What would you do in a second term about housing?
• Governor Romney, tuition costs have continued to skyrocket as states divest from higher ed. What would you do to reverse this trend and encourage states to fund their universities?
• President Obama, the drone war in the Middle East pretty much operates as your extra-judicial assassination program. Do you see any limit to presidential power in targeting individuals abroad? Could a military drone be used on a target in the United States?
• Governor Romney, your “health care plan” barely deserves ironic quotation marks. Once you’ve repealed Obamacare, what, specifically would you replace it with? How many additional people would be covered under your plan? How would you pay for it?
• President Obama, you clearly believe climate change is an existential threat. What actions are you willing to take in your second term? Will you attempt to re-introduce carbon pricing in congress? If not, will you finally allow the EPA to regulate the largest polluters?
• Governor Romney, if Iran refuses to co-operate and wind down its nuclear program, would you be willing to put American troops on the ground to stop it? What if our intelligence agencies tell us there is no other way to stop the program than a full-fledged invasion, which incidentally, is pretty much what they do say?
• President Obama, the Affordable Care Act was clearly not your preferred piece of health care legislation. What changes to it do you think must be pursued in the future? A public option? Seeking the ability for Medicare to bargain for prescription drug prices? Tort reform?
• Governor Romney, state after state continues to legalize gay marriage. If you were president would you enforce the Defense of Marriage Act? Would you seek a constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage as President Bush did?
• President Obama, the War on Drugs continues, under your administration, to be an abject failure that costs a fortune and actually seems to enrich and enshrine kingpins and warlords everywhere from Mexico to Afghanistan, all while having no effect on the number of users and addicts of all varieties. Do you plan to make any adjustment to this policy in a second term?
• Governor Romney, do you think we need income tax hikes on the 47% of Americans who pay no income tax? Do you think there needs to be a minimum income tax paid by every American family?
• President Obama, recently Chicago had a rather nasty labor stand-off between teachers and the mayor, Rahm Emanuel. Do you think teachers need to accept standardized testing as the method for evaluation that will determine their compensation and even job security?
Have any more questions that are so obvious it’s insulting? Leave them in the comments below.
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