The first Clinton-Trump presidential debate is September 26, a scant three weeks away. There are lots of gotcha questions that could be asked and I am sure the moderator, Lester Holt of NBC, is under extreme pressure to come up some of those on embarrassing topics such as Donald Trump’s attack on Mexicans and Hillary Clinton’s email server shenanigans. Let’s hope he doesn’t fall for the bait but rather chooses subjects that will illuminate the policy differences between the candidates.
With that in mind, here are questions I would recommend to him, questions to be asked of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump so that they might provide substantive answers with limited opportunities to dodge with generalities or obfuscations or hyperbolic attacks on their opponent.
1. How specifically would you change the Affordable Care Act? Which provisions would you keep and which would you jettison?
2. Would you continue federal funding of Planned Parenthood and why?
3. Would you continue funding overseas programs that include birth control measures?
4. Would you continue federal support of stem cell research?
5. Do you support a woman’s right to choose? Should Roe v Wade be overturned, leaving to individual states to decide the right to an abortion? Should anyone who participates in an abortion, be they patient or medical professional, be subject to prosecution if abortion is declared illegal?
6. Should clergy be permitted to advocate politically from their pulpits?
7. Do you support or want to overturn the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court?
8. Do you favor a federal minimum wage and, if so, at what level?
9. Given the low interest rate on borrowings do you favor increasing the federal debt to fund infrastructure spending projects?
10. What test, if any, would you have in determining your response to any aggression against a NATO ally or against Japan, Korea or The Philippines?
11. Are there any government departments or agencies you would close down? Are there any new ones you would create?
12. What would happen to undocumented immigrants during your administration?
13. How would you restore confidence and good relations between the police and minority communities?
14. Should there be any limitations on the type of weapons ordinary citizens may possess, and, if so, how would you implement such restrictions?
15. What specific changes would you make to NAFTA and the proposed TPP?
16. What is America’s role during humanitarian crises in foreign lands? Under what circumstances would you engage our military during these crises?
17. What is your position on American support, both financial and philosophical, for the United Nations?
18. Explain your position on the Iran nuclear deal and how your administration would handle relations with Iran?
19. Do you believe in global warming? Scientists have charted the rise in sea levels? What steps should we take, if any, to protect our shorelines?
20. Do we need to raise the age eligibility for Social Security and Medicare? Should we means-test for Social Security and Medicare benefits?
21. What guidelines would you impose on legal access to immigration?
22. Does the United States have any interests in helping solve the refugee problem from Africa and the Middle East?
23. How confident are you that the election will be a fair one, and do you have any evidence of past voter fraud that would lead you to believe the results would be rigged?
24. Are Americans better off today than they were when President Obama took office in January 2009?
25. To balance the budget and reduce the deficit, program cuts would have to be enacted and tax loopholes would have to be closed. Please provide specific areas that would be affected under your next budget?
26. What role would alternative energy programs play within your administration?
27. What is your position on equal pay for women?
28. Should Americans 18 and older be required to perform some form of public service, be it in the military or some other program that benefits us all, such as the WPA programs of the New Deal?