Everyone focuses on the candidates and their preparation for presidential debates, but the moderators deserve attention, too. After all, it’s the questions the the moderator will ask tonight that will drive the “debate.”
The format for tonight’s debate will consist of six 15-minute segment on topics that have already been announced. The moderator will open each segment with a question, each candidate will have two minutes to respond, and then the moderator will guide a discussion. The six topics are: The Economy – I; The Economy – II; The Economy – III; Health Care; The Role of Government; Governing.
Here are the questions on those topics that I’d like to see asked tonight:
The Economy – I: Both of you have talked about balancing the budget, a process which would require cuts in spending. Please identify one specific federal program that you would be willing to eliminate in its entirety in order to achieve a balanced budget.
The Economy – II: We’ve been reading for years now about the debt crisis in Greece, Italy, and other Eurozone countries. Should we be learning a lesson from what is happening in Europe, and if so what is that lesson?
The Economy – III: Do you agree with how the Federal Reserve has managed monetary policy in response to the economic recession? If not, what would you have done differently?
Health Care: In your view, should the federal government be involved in attempting to force Americans to lead more healthy lifestyles in the interests of controlling health care costs that are caused by obesity, smoking, and other lifestyle choices?
The Role of Government: In your view, should the federal government ever make loans or offer tax breaks to particular companies or industries in furtherance of long-term goals, such as increasing sustainable energy sources?
Governing: What can we do to avoid contrived, stopgap political compromises, like the “debt supercommittee” that failed to agree on debt reduction measures, and get back to a federal government in which Congress actually passes appropriations bills, budgets, and other legislation and the President then signs or vetoes those bills, as the Constitution contemplates?
I’d like to see short, pointed questions, and some follow-up that doesn’t allow candidates to dodge the questions. No touchy-feely subjects, either (especially on a topic like “governing”). We’ve got some serious, concrete problems in this country; those problems should be discussed in concrete terms.