Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Debate Questions I Would Have Asked

I won't give any sort of debate post-morten here, other than to comment on the horrible moderating job by Jim Lehrer, who allowed Romney to talk over the president at will, and who even interrupted president Obama during his speaking time to ask Mitt's opinion of something. What bugged me the most, however, were the questions, which essentially accepted the conservative rhetorical frame as a given, with subjects like "entitlements" and "role of government." These are certainly important issues, but ones that are primarily conservative stalking horses. I am amazed that I heard a conversation about the economy without the issues of inequality or labor even being mentioned. In that spirit, here are some questions I would have asked, questions that both the president and the challenger would find difficult.

  • What is your opinion of the increasing economic inequality in this country, and what (if anything) do you intend to do about it?
  • Recent studies show that when it comes to social mobility, America has fallen well behind its peer nations.  What should we do to get back on top and provide more opportunity?
  • Youth unemployment is especially high and recent graduates are struggling to find work.  What specifically will you do to help them?
  • Labor is increasingly being casualized and the forty-hour week is becoming a thing of the past.  Do you think such "flexibility" is a good thing to be encouraged, or needs to be changed?
  • College tuition is skyrocketing in price, yet the employment of disposable adjunct labor at universities is also increasing.  What should or can be done to correct these problems?
  • The current economic slump has hit urban Latino and African American communities the hardest.  What would you do specifically for people in those communities?
  • Wages for unskilled workers are so low that corporations like Wal-Mart train their employees how to apply for food stamps to supplement their income.  At the same time, the Wal-Mart heirs have as much wealth as the bottom 40% of the population combined. Is this state of affairs acceptable to you?

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