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The focus at Wednesday's Republican presidential debate will be on the candidates' answers and responses to questions presented by the moderators. So we figured that was a good place to start -- with the questions.
Here are seven key areas we would like the candidates to address once they take the debate stage at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
This is the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression. Since mid-2009, the economy — adjusted for inflation — has grown at a 2.1% annual pace, well below the economy’s long-term potential. The economic recovery under George W. Bush grew at a 2.8% rate; Bill Clinton’s at 3.6%; and George H. W. Bush’s at 4.3%. Is a 2% growth rate the best we can hope for? If not, what would you to do spur economic growth?
The labor force participation rate — that is, the number of people who are either employed or looking for work — is hovering near a 40-year low. Over 90 million Americans aren’t working and aren’t looking for work. Experts say about half of this low rate is due to an aging population, but can’t explain the other half. Is it acceptable to have this many Americans not working? What would you do to increase the number of jobs and opportunities for Americans who want to work?
Regulatory agencies have become one of the most important and fastest growing parts of the government, issuing some 4,000 new regulations every year, with annual compliance costs approaching $2 trillion annually. Do you think the regulatory process needs reforming and, if so, how?
More than 38 million American jobs depend on trade. U.S. exports of goods and services reached $2.3 trillion in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Is trade good for the U.S. economy? Do you support trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and an agreement with the E.U.? If so, why? If not, why not?
America is now the world’s largest oil producer. Gas prices have fallen dramatically thanks to more supply and a weakening global economy that has suppressed demand. Some argue that Congress should lift the oil export ban from the 1970s and allow our oil producers to sell their product to foreign customers. According to one study, lifting the ban on oil exports could create over 400,000 jobs and generate over $1 trillion in revenue. Do you believe the ban should be lifted?
Most Americans would agree that our tax code is a mess and needs to be reformed. The code is so complicated most Americans hire people to do their taxes, and our corporate tax rate is the highest in the world. What would you do to reform taxes for corporations, small businesses and individuals?
Entitlement spending — primarily Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — and interest on the debt already represent 66% of all spending, which will increase to 71% by 2024. This is already crowding out spending on everything else, from defense to education to infrastructure to research. By the government’s own estimates, each of the major entitlement programs is unsustainable and, without reform, will go bankrupt. Do we need commonsense changes to save our entitlements programs and allow for investments in other priorities? If so, how would you do it?