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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

October 3, 2012 at 10:40 AM

A few economic questions that ought to be asked tonight

Here are some economy related questions for the presidential debates that probably won’t be asked, but should:

For President Obama:

Mr. President, why is it that your Justice Department has not prosecuted a single major banking executive connected to the financial crisis, despite compelling evidence from congressional hearings and the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission chaired by Phil Angelides?

For Governor Romney:

Governor, you suggested that General Motors and Chrysler should go bankrupt. While you made some good points about management and shareholders being held accountable, there was no private capital available in 2008-2009 to provide a “managed bankruptcy.” The automakers, along with hundreds of suppliers, would have been closed and their assets liquidated. Do you still believe that Presidents Bush and Obama made a mistake by intervening to save Detroit?

For President Obama:

Mr. President, many economists and some of your own advisers said the stimulus was too small to make up for the lost demand from the Great Recession. Did your administration underestimate the severity of the crisis? While it might have been difficult to get a larger stimulus through Congress, much could have been done through reconciliation. And was it a mistake to spend a year trying to get Republican votes for the Affordable Care Act instead of focusing on creating jobs and providing broader mortgage relief? Looking back, what would you have done differently?

For Governor Romney:

Sir, you propose further reductions in tax rates even though there is little correlation between low tax rates and job creation. In fact, the Bush tax cuts were followed by the weakest period of job creation in decades, even before the recession hit. How is your plan different, and how would you calibrate it to create more jobs and businesses rather than just give the rich more money with which to gamble in the capital markets?

For both candidates:

Scientists who actually study climate agree that climate change is real and human caused. Much data indicate it is happening faster and more severely than initially predicted. Do you believe this? If so, how would you address the economic costs of climate change and reduce the burning of fossil fuels?

Poverty has risen substantially in recent years while economic mobility has lessened. A huge group here is the working poor, people who hold low-paying jobs but can’t get ahead. What policies would you recommend to create good-paying jobs and move more people out of poverty?

Income inequality is at least as high as it was on the eve of the Great Depression, if not at a historic high for America. Is this a bad thing? What would you propose to change this dynamic. For example, would you make taxes less regressive and higher on the rich; make it easier to unionize, and invest in infrastructure to create middle-class jobs?

China plays a different game than us on trade. In addition to currency manipulation, China requires products to be manufactured there, technology to be transferred, and other protectionist measures. What would you do to address this?

And Don’t Miss: Unlikely questions for the first presidential debate || Harpers

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Will Boeing play smart

And treat its bird nerds fairly?

Not a trick question

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