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What we should be asking on Friday

By Jeff

While everyone is talking about Lehman, AIG, Paulson and Chris Dodd (by the way, two of the best blogs for keeping up on the Fed bailout are Megan McArdle at The Atlantic and Barry L. Ritholtz’s “The Big Picture”), it’s largely being ignored that there is a Presidential debate (scheduled!) on Friday.

Assuming it goes forth, it will be interesting to see what will be the topic of discussion — initially set to be foreign policy. Call me crazy, but I have a hunch that a large chunk of it will revolve around the economy instead....

Here are some (mostly foreign policy) questions I’d like to see asked of the candidates:

To Both:

— Prior to the recent banking bailouts, the country had a $9.5 trillion debt. The government has now spent an additional $800B on bailouts and taken on an additional $4B in mortgage debt. How much will you reduce your campaign proposals with either increases in spending and/or cuts in taxes? How much more debt will your administration add over your first four years?

— What are the potential risks of the fact that 25 percent - 30 percent of our country’s national debt is owned by foreign countries, and how significant is your concern?

— The U.S. dollar has lost over one-third of its value since 2002. What do you think were the major causes of this, do you think it’s a major concern, and if so what would your administration do to remedy the situation?

— If Iraq, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia all asked you to allow them to build military bases on U.S. soil, how would you respond?

(continued) To Obama:

— In regards to the current mortgage and lending crisis, what policies or regulations did the current Bush administration institute that were different than the Clinton administration and how did they either cause or worsen our current situation?

— Your campaign has questioned Gov. Palin’s international experience. Prior to your candidacy for president after two years in the U.S. Senate, what was your foreign diplomatic experience?

— You have called NAFTA “devastating” and a “big mistake,” and have said you’d renegotiate NAFTA as president. Has NAFTA been a net positive for the United States? Has it been a net positive for Mexico? What would you renegotiate and what do you think Mexico and Canada would want to renegotiate?

— Why are you against allowing drilling on the OCS and ANWR?

— At a time when net farm income is up 50 percent, you voted for a Farm Bill that offers subsidies to farmers making up to $750,000/yr. in income, and requires the government to buy sugar at twice the global market price. Who benefits most from this $307B bill?

To McCain:

— Republicans have presented themselves as the party of fiscal responsibility for decades. However, 70 percent of our country’s $9.5 trillion debt (prior the current bailouts) was created during the last three Republican presidents’ tenure. How do you resolve those two facts?

— If Iraq’s democratically elected government asked us, without qualification, to remove 100 percent of our troops from their borders by the end of 2009, would you comply? And if not, would you consider that to be an occupation of a sovereign nation?

— Last September, in an interview with BeliefNet, you said that:

“I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation.”

However, the Treaty of Tripoli, signed just nine years after the Constitution states:

“The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

Do you believe the country would be better off if our government were influenced more or less than it currently is by Christian theology?

— You have said you are against waterboarding and “torture,” but you do feel that the CIA should be able to use “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Apart from waterboarding, CIA techniques are reported to include: stress positions, hypothermia, threats to the detainee and his family, severe sleep deprivation, and severe sensory deprivation. As a former POW, do those fall into your definition of “torture”?

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