Debates are not asking the right questions

Having watched the GOP debates on Saturday evening, I recognize the difficulty in conducting a six way debate. With that said, I must confess the debate spent a lot of time on questions which are not that relevant and less on those at least this voter would like to hear more about. I think the final straw for me was the fifteen minute discussion on contraceptives, a question only George Stephanopolus seemed to care about. That is unfortunate. They did finally get to the economy at the end, but little time was left to probe beneath the broader answers.

To me, I think we need to focus on five things and those things only – Economy, Education, Energy, Environment and Infrastructure. If we take liberty with the last one and use an “E” instead of an “I” we could call them the five E’s. I want to know what each candidate feels about these topics, what they plan to do about each and how do they differ from their competition. These five E’s are global in nature, in that, we need to reflect their impact on our ability to compete in a global economy.

We got a glimpse when Jon Huntsman referred to his backing of the Simpson-Bowles plan on deficit reduction, to which Mitt Romney countered with a variation, but here is where I want to learn the what’s and why’s. Yet, we did not have as much time to hear that or the opinions of the others. They did not touch education and said very little on energy and infrastructure. And, of course, the GOP does not like to talk about the environment unless they are using adverbs like “job-killing” something.

My hope is we can learn more on these topic from each, including how they would pay for them. Borrowing money to build infrastructure where an asset will remain is different than borrowing money to pay for operational expenses. So, if we can learn more about these issues, we can contrast the candidates against the President’s positions.

Finally, let me close with a reference to the book I mentioned in an earlier post – “That Used to Be Us” by Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum. I believe this should be required reading for all candidates and politicians about fixing the problems in the US. Education plays a heavy hand in the future as it should, so we definitely need to hear more about this issue.

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