These Are the Questions Moderators Should Ask Obama and Romney at the First Presidential Debate

The debate is supposed to focus on domestic policy, and so do these questions.

The first debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney is scheduled for Wednesday, October 3, at the University of Denver in Colorado, which means it’s not too soon to suggest some questions for the moderator, Jim Lehrer.

The debate is supposed to focus on domestic policy, and so do these questions:

For President Obama:

Mr. President, on the day you were elected in 2008, the unemployment rate was 6.5%, the national debt was $10 trillion, and a gallon of gasoline cost about $2.07. Nearly four years later, the unemployment rate is above 8%, the national debt is $16 trillion, and gas is about $3.85 a gallon. The number of Americans on food stamps has grown to 47 million now from 30 million in November 2008. On what basis can you say to the voters that you deserve to be re-hired for another four years?

Mr. President, in one of the presidential debates four years ago, you said, “we’re going to have to take on entitlements and I think we've got to do it quickly.” You said you’d like to do it in your first term as president. Why didn’t you, and why should the voters believe you now if you say you are going to do it in your second term?

Mr. President, what is the highest marginal income tax rate that you think anyone should have to pay, including state and local income taxes? What would be your proposed federal income and payroll tax rates on ordinary income, dividend income, and capital gains income, as applied to what income brackets? If you can’t name all the rates and all the brackets, isn’t that an argument for tax simplification?

Mr. President, the Supreme Court upheld your health care law only on the grounds that the penalty for not buying insurance is a tax. Doesn’t the tax then break your promise not to raise taxes on anyone earning $250,000 a year or less? Do your tax increases on cigarettes and tanning salons also break that promise? If you’ve already broken the promise at least three times, why should voters believe you won’t break it some more in a second term?

Mr. President, your party’s convention hailed the auto bailout as one of your great successes. But why should workers at lower-wage, non-union auto plants in the South, or in other industries, be taxed to bail out higher-wage unionized auto workers and retirees at General Motors? And since the GM stock would have to double its current price for the government to get its money back, wasn’t this a bad investment? Finally, speaker after speaker at your party’s convention criticized Governor Romney for an op-ed piece headline that said “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” without mentioning that your administration put both GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy. Isn’t that misleading?

For Governor Romney:

How were the John and Abigail Adams scholarships you championed as governor of Massachusetts different from the doubling of Pell Grants under President Obama? And how was the individual health insurance mandate in Massachusetts different from the one in ObamaCare? If voters are looking for someone to use tax dollars to expand access to higher education and health care, why shouldn’t they just stick with President Obama?

You’ve criticized President Obama for cutting $716 billion from Medicare. Medicare spending was $391 billion in 2008, $430 billion in 2009, $452 billion in 2010, and $486 billion in 2011. How are you going to do anything to rein in entitlement spending as president if anytime you try critics are going to come at you with commercials combining ten-year projections and inflated future baselines to make it look like you are throwing grandma off a cliff?

You are airing campaign commercials promising that you will generate "59,000 new jobs for New Hampshire," "create over 200,000 new jobs for Colorado," "create over 700,000 new jobs for Florida," "create over 100,000 new jobs for Nevada," and "create over 340,000 new jobs for Virginia." Doesn’t this undermine your message that jobs are created by entrepreneurs not by Washington politicians? How can you possibly know with such fine-tuned certainty and specificity how many jobs you will create in each state?

What would be your proposed federal income and payroll tax rates on ordinary income, dividend income, and capital gains income, as applied to what income brackets? If you can’t name all the rates and all the brackets, isn’t that an argument for tax simplification? If you plan to reduce or eliminate any tax deductions, which ones, and if you won’t say which ones, why not? And if, as you’ve said, the reductions in tax loopholes or deductions would actually shift more of the tax burden onto upper-income Americans, then what’s your argument for making the tax code even more “progressive” than it is now, when now the top 5% of income earners already pay about 59% of the federal individual income taxes even though they earn only about 32% of the adjusted gross income?

When you said in your convention acceptance speech “I will not raise taxes on the middle class of America," does that mean you are going to raise taxes on those you think are better off than middle class? How much are you going to raise them, and on who, exactly? Why didn’t you talk about tax cuts in your speech, rather than just backing the status quo?

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  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Question for Candidate #1: The American public wants to know, which one are you again; the shit sandwich or the giant douchebag?

    Question for Candidate #2: If elected, do you plan to expand government, raise taxes, increase war, and destroy liberty? or will you destroy liberty, increase war, raise taxes, and expand government?

  • CE||

    Question 3, for both candidates: in which year (or century) does your budget plan balance the budget, or have you just given up because we'll never even be able to cover the interest payments by 2019?

  • Butler||

    ^^ This. Oh, and what about NDAA and the PATRIOT ACT, Mr. President.

  • ||

    Who the fuck would watch this?!? Borderlands 2 is being released tomorrow.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Are we assuming here that the candidates intend to actually answer questions in the debate?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "Can you think of any significant problem in the United States that cannot be solved by the Federal Government?"

  • CE||

    Don't you mean "the questions moderators should ask Johnson, Obama and Romney at the first presidential debate"?

  • ||

    In november I am going to have to choose which one of these fucksticks to put in the oval office. The truth is I wouldnt let either one of these motherfuckers be in charge of watering my grass.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Nobody is forcing you to vote for President. Yet.

  • John||

    What hugh said. You can always stay home or leave it blank. I don't think Louisiana is in play anyway.

  • Pip||

    I haven't voted since Franken stole the US Senate election, but I might go in just to vote for Blong Yang for County Commissioner.

  • John||

    I like to vote to have all of the judges recalled. And I would like to vote against the Maryland gambling initiative. Fuck them. If they want to legalize gambling, legalize it. Don't use it as an excuse to hand out licenses to your cronies.

  • newshutz||

    Read the following as Mr. Subliminal:

    If your state is not a swing state you should vote for a third party candidate (Johnson). If your vote is not going to effect the outcome, you should make it worth something (Johnson). Choosing between the lessor of two evils is still choosing evil, make a better choice (Johnson)

  • Nazzy||

    You could vote for Johnson? He's a bit better than the other two clowns...

  • T o n y||

    Romney: Do you really believe that 47% of the population of the country is a) not worthy of your concern as would-be president and b) lazy good-for-nothings just because they don't earn enough income to pay income tax on top of their other federal tax burdens?

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Obama: Do you really believe "We can pay for it all, but you won't have to pay for it at all" is a fiscally sustainable economic policy?

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    At the same time, Tony, it's nice to see you admit that the federal bureaucratic infrastructure has become so bloated that it's even too much for the Free Shit Army ("WE R DE 99%" version) to handle.

  • John||

    Obama - Since it is the stated US deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, do you deplore those who harshly condemn religions for their anti homosexuality religious beliefs?

  • T o n y||

    I support denigrating religion at every possible opportunity.

  • John||

    Obama does not think you have the right to do that.

  • T o n y||

    Yeah, I'm sure he thinks that.

  • John||

    He just said that dipshit. Last I looked the man in California got arrested for it.

  • T o n y||

    Looked where? The guy was taken in for a voluntary interview regarding possible violation of the terms of his probation for a prior crime. He was not arrested. And Obama never said that. Stop lying, or stop being so willfully lied to.

  • Virginian||

    "The guy was taken in for a voluntary interview"

    This is what Tony actually believes.

  • T o n y||

    Show me a cite that shows he was arrested. I'd be extremely curious what crime he was allegedly arrested for.

  • ||

    You do know the difference between "voluntary" and "involuntary", right? Nevermind, of course you don't. Tony thinks paying taxes in this country is "voluntary".

  • Vapourwear||

    If there were a Tony signal, I'm thinkin'......disembodied tongue licking an ass?

  • OldMexican||

    Mr. President, for the win: How many states are in the Union?

  • John||

    The won't ask any of those questions. The questions will be

    "Governor Romney why did you let your formerly reasonable campaign get hijacked by Libertarian nihilists and fundamentalist, racist dog whistlers?"

    "And Governor Romney, when exactly did you stop cheating on your taxes?"

    "Mr. President, can I get you a drink?"

    "Mr. President, how can you explain to America why it is worthy of your great leadership?"

    "Mr. President, would you like me to give you your blowjob now or after the debate?"

  • T o n y||

    "All right -- there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing."

    Republicans' (head-poundingly incessant) playing of the victim card is OK because it's definitely real.

  • John||

    Since it is the stated position of your administration is that it deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, do you deplore those who harshly condemn religions for their anti homosexuality religious beliefs?

  • T o n y||

    Conservatives have a pre-adolescent technique of dealing with national security threats. Call your opponents doodyheads.

  • ||

    Liberals have a much more mature, adult, nuances technique of dealing with every conceivable national policy issues. BOOOOOOOOSH!!!!!!!!!

  • Tommy_Grand||

    Wait, are you saying less than 47% of Americans see themselves as victims? I think his estimate is a little low.

    I'm comfortable with the claim that most Americans see themsleves as victims -- victims of racism or affirmative action, of being taxed too heavily or being denied a fair wage, of being denied "access" to free healthcare or being forced to buy unwanted health insurance, of being fed lies by the MSM or by Fox, of being forced to pay for futile wars they don't support, etc.

  • R C Dean||

    "Balancing the budget will require $1.3TT in either tax increases, spending cuts, or some combination. Please tell us approximately how much you would increase taxes, and what taxes you would increase, and approximately how much you would cut from entitlement programs, defense, and the discretionary budget. In the alternative, you may simply confirm that you aren't the least bit serious about balancing the budget."

  • John||

    That is not totally true. You could always just stop spending more and wait for revenue to catch up. Of course not spending more is called a "cut" in Washington.

  • R C Dean||

    Unfortunately, John, not really an option.

    Lets be optimistic and assume that the economy grows at 3%/year on average, and taxes grow at the same rate. Total federal revenues in 2011 were $2.3TT. In 10 years, they would be roughly $3.1TT.

    Let's say the defense and discretionary budgets were frozen at current levels. That's around $720BB on defense, and $650BB on "discretionary". Lets not forget interest on the debt, at $240BB for 2011. We're up to $1.6TT, leaving $1.5TT for entitlement programs in 10 years (less, actually, since the debt and interest payments will grow over that time).

    What about those entitlement programs? Assuming no cuts, they will cost us 15% of GDP in 2022. That's almost what the fedgov actually collected in taxes this year, so call it $2.3TT, leaving us an $800BB deficit in 2022.

    No, you can't freeze spending and grow out of our deficits. That may have been an option once, but is no longer.

  • Restoras||

    Train headed over a cliff with no one driving and we are passengers that can't get off.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    I'll be in the bar car...

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "Will you promise to commit ritual suicide on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial if federal spending exceeds 19% of GDP in two years?"

  • Romulus Augustus||

    Que4stion #1 "Why aren't you insisting Gov. Johnson be on stage with you for this debate?"

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    Candidate #1: If you would describe yourself as an animal, what kind of animal would you be?
    Candidate #2: If you had to give yourself a nickname, what nickname would you give yourself?

  • Pro Libertate||

    If you had to nuke just one country, which country would it be and why?

  • John||

    As President my first act would be to nuke Portland and tell the rest of the world if any of them made a false move or fucked with me, they were next. It is a shitty little city full of hipsters no one will miss anyway. And nothing commands respect and awe like being willing to nuke your own city. Any leader can nuke his enemy. But only a truly powerful one can nuke one of his own cities.

  • Mensan||

    I read a blog once where the author was arguing that we should nuke the moon, just to show all the other countries that we're fuckin' crazy.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I believe this is that to which you refer.

  • Mensan||

    Yeah, that's it.

  • sticks||

    D.C. is a country right? Nuke D.C.!

  • OO=======D||

    QED

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "How much is 'Two plus two?' Please, no help from the audience!"

  • John||

    Math and science questions and history trivia would be fucking great.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    80s trivia.

  • John||

    Maybe a little sports trivia so Obama has a fighting chance. Jesus would Biden be a riot.

  • Tman||

    Liz Montgomery: Yes. Mr. President, you said that the Humphrey-Hawkins bill will cost a possible sixty billion dollars. But isn't it true that the jobs provided by the bill will create up to a hundred and fifty billion dollars in increased production -- using Walter Heller's figure that for every one percent unemployed, there is a resulting thirty-seven billion dollar loss in GNP. Now, at hte present rate of taxation on GNP of thirty-nine percent, doesn't this come to about the same sixty billion dollars in increased revenue?

    President Gerald R. Ford: [ sweating ] It was my understanding that there would be no math... during the debates. Now, I -- I am prepared to answer any domestic, uh -- questions. Perhaps you would like to know something about me and Betty? [ buzzer sounds ] Excuse me again, my fellow Americans.

  • Joe R.||

    "Explain the inverse relationship between bond prices and interest rates."

  • Pro Libertate||

    Who won the Hundred Years' War? How long did it last?

  • John||

    Who is buried in Grant's Tomb.

  • Copernicus||

    "I was told there would be no math in this portion of the debate..."

    /Chevy Chase

  • ||

    "What is your name? 15 seconds, Bob."

  • Pro Libertate||

    Please state the decimal representation of the mathematical constant that is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter to as many digits as you can recall.

  • John||

    Please solve this single variable equation. I wouldn't even make them do a double variable.

  • Pro Libertate||

    How many miles in a light year? Or kilometers?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Or, to go a different direction altogether, how many parsecs did it take for Han Solo to make the Kessel Run?

    What is a parsec?

  • John||

    Appeal to the yutes. Have them just fight it out in an epic Warcraft battle. Or maybe replay the Super Bowl in Madden NFL with Romney playing the Patriots and Obama playing the Giants.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Damn your nimble fingers.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I liked your phrasing better. An answer other than, "Your question makes no sense, as a parsec is a measure of distance, not time" means instant and total disqualification from American citizenship.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Better yet, hold the debate over the Rancor pit. A wrong answer activates the trap door.

  • Pro Libertate||

    If Lucas edited Return of the Jedi so that all of the Ewoks died, would you celebrate or be sad?

  • Hugh Akston||

    How long, in parsecs, does it take you to make the Kessel Run?

  • Copernicus||

    Even better, how many earth years is a light year? That'll expose them.

  • Rich||

    Please state the decimal representation of the mathematical constant that is the base of the natural logarithm to as many digits as you can recall, and explain why this constant is intimately related to the economy.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'm embarrassed to admit that I can only go to 2.7. My mind is going. I can feel it, Dave.

  • Rich||

    You're halfway there, PL.

    Hint: "exponential".

  • John||

    E baby.

  • Copernicus||

    "Please state the decimal representation of the mathematical constant that is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter to as many digits as you can recall."

    extra credit points for any candidate who prefaces his answer with "Who likes pi?"

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    There should be a cooking portion too. Like Iron Chef meats Hell's Kitchen.

  • John||

    Gordan Ramsey abusing them both. That would be awesome. Or better yet, make them both be sous chefs for an Iron Chef competition. See how they take orders and whether they can actually do anything productive.

  • Rich||

    That is an excellent idea.

    See if they have what is takes to be a "Servant of the People".

  • Rich||

    *it*

  • Copernicus||

    too close to the cookbook entitled: "How to serve Man".

  • Entropy Void||

    Heh, "meats".

    Yeah, I see what you did there.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    What is the most endearing quality about your opponent, and why don't you exhibit it?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Who won the Hundred Years' War? How long did it last?

    "Who's buried in Grant's Tomb?"

    "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?"

  • Pro Libertate||

    The Hundred Years' War lasted 116 years, so that's a trick question.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Typing is hsrd.

    And slow.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "Why does an airplane rise?"

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    "That's the yeast of my worries!"

    Oh, wait, that's an answer to a bread question.

    Axe me a bread question!

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    Solve the following sports equation:
    “The number of Stanley Cups won by the Montreal Canadiens, plus the number of NY Yankee World Series wins, multiplied by the number of Duke NCAA men’s basketball titles, divided by Roger Clemons career ERA; multiplied by the number of Anna Kournikova’s singles Grand Slam titles”

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Zero.

  • ||

    Mr. President, when did you stop beating your wife?

  • newshutz||

    Mr. President, when did your wife stop beating you?

  • Chris Yoder||

    Gov Romney, why are you actively trying to remove a validly selected Presidential candidate from the ballot?

    Mr President, why are you speaking out in defense of Gary Johnson against the direct and malicious intent of the GOP to circumvent our republican democracy by not allowing citizens to view all the options on the ballot?

    To both, why are you afraid to let Gary Johnson be in the debates?

  • Mensan||

    What the hell is a republican democracy?

  • The Hammer||

    Actual question: Mr. President: Which are you prouder of, your sterling record of governance or your refusal to go negative in what has become an intense campaign?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "Mister Romney, if you are elected president, will you have Eric Holder and Janet Napolitano taken into custody by federal marshals immediately following your inauguration?"

  • Pro Libertate||

    Please conjugate the Latin verb, amo.

  • Christina||

    Mr. Romney, are you refusing to release your tax records because you haven't been tithing the full 10% to the Mormon church?

  • Rich||

    Is your opponent a racist? Why or why not?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "How is your opponent most like Hitler?"

  • Mensan||

    Mr. President, have you decided to stop blatantly violating the Constitution if you are elected to a second term?

  • ParkPlace||

    "Why aren't you wearing any pants?"

  • NickRose||

    I think President Obama have more change to win the debate, because he represent more voice in American.

  • newshutz||

    dude, put down the pipe before posting

  • BMFPitt||

    From what I understand, unemployment would be at elecenty million percent without the stimulus.

  • The Derider||

    To the Mittster:

    Do you believe that "There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it?"

    The election ended today, guys.

  • Nazzy||

    Add this question:
    Why are neither of you, Mr. President nor Mr. Romney, willing to debate Gary Johnson on the issues?

  • Copernicus||

    Just for laughs: Where were you born and who is your father?

  • Copernicus||

    When submerged in his bathtub, who yelled out "Eureka"?

    Hint: Not Anthony Weiner

  • Copernicus||

    How can the Federal Government better regulate commerce?

  • Alexander||

    To both candidates,

    Which one of you has a bigger dick?
    A- Mitt Romney
    B- Barack Obama
    C- Mitt Romney flaccid, Barack Obama erect
    D- Can you blow each other right now

  • Ardelle||

    Doesn’t this undermine your message that jobs are created by entrepreneurs not by Washington politicians? How can you possibly know with such fine-tuned certainty and specificity how many jobs you will create in each state?

  • Francisco||

    What would be your proposed federal income and payroll tax rates on ordinary income, dividend income, and capital gains income, as applied to what income brackets? If you can’t name all the rates and all the brackets, isn’t that an argument for tax simplification?

  • Alexander||

    Mr. President, what is your favorite method of clearing out all the homeless from the white house?
    A- Pissing on them
    B- Having your wife grow poisonous plants in hopes a homeless man will try to eat it and die.
    C- Guns
    D- Sending them to Guantanamo bay.

  • Ivy||

    Those questions should be asked, but they probably won't be answered. Honestly, anyways.

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