Tonight, Republican presidential hopefuls will gather in New Hampshire for the first real debate of the 2012 election. The CNN/WMUR/Union Leader-sponsored event will help introduce the seven candidates to the country and offer the first chance for the field’s top candidates to go head to head, as the front-runners skipped May’s presidential forum in South Carolina.
With the latest job numbers, a lot of Americans are asking: What exactly do lower corporate taxes and tax cuts for millionaires do for me? The GOP hopefuls have laid out plans that will overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy and corporations, but have yet to explain how they would create jobs, strengthen the middle class, and help the millions of unemployed Americans searching for jobs.
While much remains to be learned about these candidates, here are the questions we’re hoping they each get asked tonight:
FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOV. MITT ROMNEY: You’ve positioned yourself as a leader on job creation, releasing a web video today attacking President Obama on the bleak jobs picture. But while you were governor, Massachusetts was ranked 47th on job creation. While you were at Bain, the company slashed jobs. And in 2009, when hundreds of thousands of jobs were on the line when General Motors and Chrysler were struggling for survival, you penned an op-ed titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” The government’s rescue of these companies helped return themto profitability and save jobs. Given your record, how can Americans trust you on job creation?
FORMER MINNESOTA GOV. TIM PAWLENTY: Last week, you presented an economic plan that would dramatically cut the top individual income tax rate and the corporate tax rate, depriving the government of up to $7.8 trillion in tax revenue. And that’s on top of the $2.5 trillion cost of extending all of the Bush tax cuts. You’ve said you would pay for the cuts with a nearly unprecedented economic growth rate of 5 percent a year for 10 years that even you yourself say is an “aspiration.” But, in case we are unable to achieve that growth rate, how would you balance the budget with these massive new tax cuts, especially since you’ve taken military cutsoff the table?
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN): You voted for the GOP Medicare privatization plan, but later said there is an “asterisk” by your vote because, you said, “I’m concerned about shifting the cost burden to senior citizens.” Indeed, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says seniors would pay thousands of dollars more each year for their health care starting in 2022. By now, nearly all of your potential opponents have come out in support of the plan — do you fully support it? If not, why?
FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R-PA): Several recent polls show that a majority of Americans are in favor of gay marriage. Republicans here in New Hampshire have veto-proof majorities in both chambers, but chose to not pursue repealing gay marriage to focus on jobs and the economy. Was that the right decision?
FORMER GODFATHER’S PIZZA CEO HERMAN CAIN: In March, you said you would not appoint Muslims to a Cain administration’s cabinet and then, just this past week on Fox News host Glenn Beck’s show, you called for special loyalty oaths for Muslim political appointees, which you would not give to members of other religions. You’ve also publicly calls on Americans to “re-read” the Constitution, but isn’t your singling out of Muslims unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment?
FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: Before later backtracking, you famously said that the GOP Medicare privatization plan was “right-wing social engineering.” You later disavowed those comments and pledged support for the plan. But now, given the fact that numerous polls showing the plan to be unpopular, the blowback Republican lawmakers faced in their home districts over it, and the results of the special election in New York’s 26th Congressional District, were you right the first time?
REP. RON PAUL (R-TX): You have been very outspoken about your interpretation of the Constitution, passionately arguing that most of what the federal government does today — including Social Security and Medicare — is unconstitutional. As president, would you work to completely repeal these social safety net programs? You’ve also suggested the Civil Rights Actwas an unconstitutional encroachment on property owners. Would you work to repeal it? What about similar laws like the Voters With Disability Act or the Voting Rights Act?
Today’s Brief: Important Stories That You May Have Missed
A persistent slowdown in hiring is the biggest threat facing the U.S. recovery, according to a group of economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal. Economists have sharply cut the number of jobs they predict the economy will create. “If jobs don’t grow fast enough, the recovery will sputter,” said economist Nicholas S. Perna of Perna Associates.
President Obama is moving aggressively to win back Wall Street donors who gave heavily to his campaign in 2008. Among Obama’s efforts was a meeting with more than two dozen Wall Street executives at the White House earlier this year.
The United Nations said Sunday that May was the deadliest month for Afghan civilians since the agency began tracking their deaths in 2007. “We’re very concerned about this because, historically, civilian harm increases over the summer fighting months, and we’ve only just begun the summer now,” said Georgette Gagnon, who directs the U.N.’s human rights mission in Kabul.
Gareth Porter of IPS casts doubt on U.S. military claims of capturing over 4,000 Taliban. He writes, “More than 80 percent of those called captured Taliban fighters were released within days of having been picked up, because they were found to have been innocent civilians, according to official U.S. military data.”
The Obama administration is launching a new “Campaign to Cut Waste” that includes plans to close or consolidate about 500 federal websites as part of an effort to reduce government overlap. In a video announcing the initiative, Obama joked that the government doesn’t need websites devoted to desert tortoises or a quintet of U.S. Forest Service rangers who play the fiddle.
Tomorrow, President Obama will become the first U.S. president in 50 years to visit Puerto Rico. The last president to do so was John F. Kennedy. The island, whose future status remains in limbo, is “crippled by a soaring murder rate, mass exodus and 16.2 percent unemployment.”
And finally: After CNN blocked former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (R) from participating in tonight’s debate, Fox News host John Stossel decided to throw Johnson a bone and invited him to debate “President Obama” — in the form of Obama impersonator Reggie Brown. In a “SNL”-worthy seven-minute segment, Brown recited “real Obama quotes” for Johnson to counter in front of “a small studio audience” that “was there to clap for Johnson and boo fake POTUS.”
[update]Here are how the questions were asked and answered during the debate.