Presidential Debate III: Debate With A Vengeance, and the Debate Questions we didn’t get.

Welcome to the Daily Sausage.

Today’s Sausage is going to be a little different than usual for two reasons. First, it is a slow news day, so I don’t have a whole lot to link to other than some debate wrap ups. Second, since it is a slow news day, I thought it might be interesting to look back at the three debates we’ve had and talk about the questions that weren’t asked in the three categories of economic, domestic, and foreign policy issues.

So, let’s do some Debate wrap up.

First we have Charles P. Pierce, who gives us the image of former UN Ambassador John Bolton in a four point restraint.

You have to give Romney and his campaign credit. They said they were going to do it. They telegraphed the punch five months ago. They told the entire nation that there would come a day in which everything Willard Romney had said about anything in his entire seven-year quest to be president would be rendered, in the memorable word of Nixon White House flack Ron Ziegler, “inoperative.” They told us quite honestly that their entire campaign was going to be based on an ongoing argument between the Willard Romney who ran for the Republican nomination and the Willard Romney who thereupon would run for president. They told us he would renege on his previous positions, and he has. They told us he would reverse his field over and over again, and he has. They told us that the only real principle to which the man will ever hold firm is that he will be utterly unprincipled.

Here’s my question: if you are a principled conservative (please, hold your laughter until the end of the question) how do you vote for Mitt Romney? I’m not asking “How do you vote for Mitt Romney instead of Barack Obama?”, I’m asking “How do you vote for Mitt Romney?”. So far in this campaign he has held two or more positions on literally every issue. Is there a special Republican-only ballot where you can vote for Severely Conservative Mitt Romney and/or Moderate Mitt Romney that the rest of us don’t know about? I’ve been reading and writing about this guy for months and I have literally no idea what kind of President he would be.

Ed from Gin and Tacos follows up with “Going Through The Motions”

3. I can’t even imagine how much you would have to hate Obama to listen to Romney and think “Yeah, this guy sounds great!” He doesn’t sound interested, he talks in circles, he takes scripted potshots at Obama and then admits that his positions are basically identical (i.e. on Afghanistan), and he talks about comprehensive strategies that he never explains. Unlike in the economic-themed debates where he throws out slogans people can respond to – Low taxes! Job Creators! Loud Noises! – he can’t even do that much with foreign policy. How anyone convinces themselves that he scored a resounding victory on Monday night is beyond me. First debate? Sure. Yesterday? He did everything but take a dump on the stage.

Yeah, what he said.

And finally, the always dependable ThinkProgress clocked Mitt at 24 lies in 41 minutes. Not as good as his previous debate performances, but still respectable.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the questions that didn’t get asked at the debates.

Our first round of questions will be about the economy.

  1. Over the past thirty years, income inequality in the United States has exploded. The bottom 50% of the population holds 1% of the wealth, and the top 1% holds 40% of the wealth. Several non-partisan economic studies have shown that severely unequal economies like ours are exceptionally detrimental to long term economic prosperity. If elected President, what would you do to correct this inequality?
  2. There has been a great deal of talk about reducing the national debt and deficit reduction in general. So far the conversation has focused almost exclusively on reducing discretionary non-defense spending, which comprises approximately 16% of the Federal budget. What the conversation has not included is reducing Medicare/Medicaid (20%), Social Security (21%) or discretionary Defense spending (19%). What economic policies would you put in place as President to bring down the overall costs of these programs?
  3. Despite the best efforts of the Federal and State governments over the last fifty years, the fact remains that if you are born poor and a minority, it is far more likely that you and your children will remain poor rather than achieve upward social mobility. The same is true for white families, but not to the same degree. As President, what would you do to improve class mobility for minorities specifically and society in general?
  4. The cost of higher education has risen dramatically over the last thirty years, causing more and more young Americans to take out exorbitant public and private loans to pay for an undergraduate collegiate education. The sheer size and interest rates on these loans have driven many young Americans out of the market for milestone possessions such as cars and homes, as well as forced them into delaying major life events such as marriage and having children. What would you do to reduce the cost of higher education in this country and provide loan relief to generations of Americans unduly burdened by student loans?
  5. Over the past several years it has become obvious that certain Wall Street executives and employees acted in bad faith in their dealings with the American people, in many cases profiting handsomely from tremendous human suffering. Many of these actions were also illegal, but prosecuting them would require taking on the largest financial institutions in the world. If elected President, how would you direct the Justice Department to bring the frauds and crooks of Wall Street to justice?
  6. Part of the fallout from Wall Street’s malfeasance is the cratering of the mortgage market, as well as a precipitous drop in home prices which has left many individuals underwater or in foreclosure on their mortgages. As President, what would you do to provide relief to mortgage holders?
  7. A large portion of the tax code is currently titled to benefit the wealthiest Americans. The Estate Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Carried Interest Loophole, etc. are all almost universally used by the wealthiest Americans to avoid paying their rightful effective tax rate, resulting in scenarios where CEOs are paying less, both in terms of percentage and dollar amounts, than their administrative assistants. As President, what would you do to ensure that everyone pays their fair share?

Our second round of questions will be about domestic policy.

  1. The origins of marijuana prohibition are understood to have been driven primarily by racism as well as certain businesses wishing to eliminate a competitor to their products. Studies conducted over the last several years have demonstrated marijuana to have a variety of medicinal properties, which in many cases exceeds the effectiveness of currently available prescription pharmaceuticals without the side effects. If Congress were to either decriminalize or legalize marijuana for medicinal use, would you sign or veto that legislation and why?
  2. The increase in smartphones with video recording capability as well as video hosting websites such as YouTube has also given rise to citizen-journalists who can capture events as they happen, beyond the reach of the traditional media, and instantly share them with the world. One notable instance of this technology is capturing Police brutality, most notably during the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City. Despite exercising their legal rights, protesters were beaten, arrested, and otherwise had their constitutional right to free assembly trampled on by police departments around the country. This question is in two parts: 1) what policies would you pursue to ensure the constitutional right of protesters such as the Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party movement to peaceably assemble and protest without harassment from law enforcement? 2) what policies would you pursue to check the increasingly militarized, violent, and authoritarian actions and tactics of police departments around the country?
  3. The decision for a woman to have or not have an abortion is intensely personal and stressful, often dealing with an emotional area at the intersection of both her secular and spiritual lives. In 1973 the Supreme Court affirmed the right of women to have an abortion up to the point of fetal viability, which can be reached as soon as 24 weeks after conception. In the last five years, multiple states have passed onerous new restrictions and regulations designed specifically to drive abortion providers out of practice, and to make getting an abortion as difficult as possible. As President, what would you do to reaffirm the right of a woman to choose to have an abortion, even if you personally disagree with it, as ruled upon by the Supreme Court?
  4. When the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution and founded this great nation, they intentionally placed a firewall between government and religion. Their reasoning for this was that throughout history, wherever government and religion have been allowed to intermingle, it has inevitably corrupted both. If elected President, what would you do to ensure the separation of church and state?
And for our last debate, foreign policy:
  1. One of the signs of true friendships is the ability to tell a close friend when they’re acting inappropriately. Israel has long been regarded as our closest ally in the middle east, but Israel has also been accused of violating international peace agreements, settlement restrictions, human rights violations of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, and a variety of other accusations. As President, what would you do to balance supporting Israel as a valuable ally as well as ensuring that they are a responsible member of the middle eastern and international community?
  2. Over the last ten years, the spread of Islamic extremism throughout the middle east has proven to be a thorn in the side of the United States. What would you do to reduce Islamic extremism in the middle east?
  3. One of the causes in the rise of Islamic extremism over the past several years is the use of drone strikes to take our terrorists. These drone strikes are decided in secret, vetted by no one outside of the West Wing, and frequently result in civilian casualties. If elected President, how would you make this program more transparent and accountable to the American people?
  4. The European Union, specifically those members that use the Euro, is undergoing a debt crisis on multiple fronts. Germany, the strongest economy in the EU and the primary debt-holder, is demanding of debtor countries like Spain, Greece, Italy, and Portugal harsh austerity measures which decrease GDP and reduce the ability of the debtor nations to pay back their debts. If elected, how would you solve the Eurozone debt crisis?
I would have watched the shit out of those debates.