Questions For The GOP Iowa Debate: Economy Edition

As they campaign around Iowa ahead of the Ames Straw Poll on Saturday, GOP presidential candidates are revealing who they are fighting for. And it’s not most Americans.

At the Iowa State Fair today, angry Iowans confronted Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor responded by arguing, “Corporations are people, my friend.” And he also said the U.S. should consider a higher retirement age for Medicare and Social Security, a proposal that would have a regressive impact on lower-income Americans.

After a busy summer of backyard speeches and bus tours, the thing that is most clear about the Republican Party and today’s GOP field is that they are beholden to an increasingly small and extreme Tea Party fringe – a fringe that would rather end Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security than make the wealthy, Big Oil, and hedge fund billionaires pay their fair share.

Tonight, eight Republican candidates will meet in Iowa for the second presidential debate. After they have campaigned on business-friendly policies that would protect the rich and further damage our economy, here are questions about the economy we think each candidate should have to address at tonight’s Iowa Republican presidential debate:

Mitt Romney
As governor, you touted the new revenues from fees you increased and the tax loopholes you closed in Massachusetts as a reason Standard & Poor’s should increase the state’s credit rating. Now, after the U.S.’s credit rating has been lowered by S&P, the rating agency has cited Republican intransigence on raising new revenues as a reason. Would you consider any new net revenues as part of a deficit reduction bill in order to increase the nation’s credit rating?

Michele Bachmann
Previously, you have suggested that the U.S. should raise taxes on the poor, but the IRS reported last week that in 2009, nearly 1,500 millionaires paid no income taxes at all. Given our nation’s serious debt and deficit problems, is it fair for millionaires to not pay any taxes while the middle class is forced to bear more of the burden?

Ron Paul
Unlike most of your rivals, you have called for cuts to defense spending. The first round of the debt deal passed last week calls for $350 billion in cuts to defense spending. Do you think additional savings are required from the Pentagon?

Tim Pawlenty
You opposed the debt deal congressional Republicans negotiated with President Obama, noting you supported the Cut, Cap, and Balance plan. That plan would’ve required that Balanced Budget Amendment pass both the House and the Senate before the debt ceiling could be raised — a position that Senator John McCain called “not fair to the American people.” So would you have chosen a default on our obligations short of achieving the demands outlined in the Cut, Cap, and Balance plan?

Rick Santorum
In your plan to boost the economy, you call for increasing domestic energy production, and have previously called for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (although it would do little for the economy). Yet investing $150 billion in clean energy would create 1.7 million jobs and do more to improve domestic energy production. Why are you not promoting clean energy to improve the U.S. economy?

Jon Huntsman
You said it is “criminal” for corporations to use loopholes in order to avoid paying their tax burden, including GE not paying a dime on $5.1 billion in profits last year. And while you support loopholes, you say you would oppose tax reform that increased the tax burden. But as corporations make record profits, does the government have a role in reining in corporate power? If so, how?

Newt Gingrich
You have adamantly insisted that tax increases should not be a part of any debt ceiling deal, but Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), who is a member of the super committee that will make recommendations for the debt ceiling deal, has indicated that he would not be opposed to tax reform to generate revenue in the deal. Do you agree with Portman’s opinion?

Herman Cain
In the plan you’ve laid out for improving the economy if you were president, the first step is to lower the corporate tax rate. But corporations, unlike most Americans, are making more than ever and paying less by taking advantage of tax loopholes. Despite record profits that grew 81 percent in 2010 at the largest 500 corporations, the share of profits those corporations actually paid in taxes are near all-time historic lows because of credits, write-offs and other special loopholes. Instead of simply lowering the corporate tax rate, should these tax breaks be eliminated, saving America $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years?

Evening Brief: Important Stories That You May Have Missed

Chase bank sells off soldier’s home on the very same day he returns from Iraq.

What you need to know about each of the GOP super committee members.

Likely presidential hopeful Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) oversaw his 235th execution as governor yesterday — the most of any modern governor.

Romney takes more lobbyist campaign cash than the rest of the GOP field combined.

Chart: The recent decline in state and local tax revenue was the worst ever.

The American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate front-group responsible for authoring hundreds of conservative bills introduced in state legislatures each year, may have broken Minnesota’s campaign finance ruling with an education seminar held last spring.

Germany’s Neo-Nazi Party gets one-upped by T-shirts whose design changes after washing.

How the New Yorker’s profile of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) underestimated “the real influence of [her law professor] RJ Rushdoony and the Christian Reconstructionists” in forming the Tea Party ideology.

In response to the promotional campaign focused on Mormonism, Stephen Colbert announced his own “even cooler” Catholic ad.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Advocacy Team