Nine Essential Questions for the Presidential Debates

By Pam Martens: October 16, 2012 

Mitt Romney and President Obama in Their First Presidential Debate, October 3, 2012

(1) Mr. President, both Ron Ruskind and Sheila Bair have written books that suggest that your Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, is a tool of Wall Street and, specifically, Citigroup. Mr. Suskind indicated that you had instructed Mr. Geithner to unwind Citigroup and he ignored your order.  Will you tell Americans once and for all if that is true, and if it is, why the President of the United States would tolerate insubordination from his Treasury Secretary. 

(2) Governor Romney, you and your running mate, Paul Ryan, believe we have too much government: too many governmental controls in business, too many government entitlement programs.  But when it comes to women’s bodies and abortion, you advocate letting the government control. Can you explain the seeming dichotomy of your logic and, also, why it would be humane to bring unwanted children into a country where one in every five children live below the poverty level. 

(3) Mr. President, many of your loyal 2008 base of supporters felt sold out when you populated your administration with Wall Street sycophants.  Some of us understand that the President must walk a tight rope between proper regulation of rapacious capitalism and going so far as to drive Wall Street out of the United States — to London’s Canary Wharf, for example, where our country becomes the target rather than the home with no ability at all to regulate the serial misdeeds.  What can you sincerely say you have learned in this regard from the last four years and what steps will you take in the next four to prevent another 2008 financial crisis. 

(4) Governor Romney, many Americans believe that the President of the United States should be above reproach and his background completely transparent.  There is more than just the public’s peace of mind at issue.  A political leader with skeletons in his closet is someone who could be compromised through blackmail or become a national security risk.  In that vein, can you explain why the American people should trust someone who has tens of millions of dollars in offshore accounts and will not disclose more than two years of tax returns. 

(5) President Obama, can you explain in simple, clear terms to the American people why too-big-to-fail Wall Street banks that brought the county to the financial brink in 2008 were allowed to grow even larger and more systemically dangerous by acquiring other large banks during the tumultuous days of 2008. 

(6) Governor Romney, there are reports that on July 22 you attended a fundraiser for your campaign hosted by David Koch at his mansion in the Hamptons, where he offered you an extra $100 million in campaign support if you named Paul Ryan as your running mate.  Can you address that and, if it is not true, explain how you came to select Paul Ryan, a man who has said he is heavily influenced by the radical thinker, Ayn Rand. 

(7) President Obama, it is common belief that the engine of job growth in America is small business.  But the reality is that it is Wall Street that provides the capital for the technology breakthroughs and innovations that will fuel the new industries vital to America’s future competitiveness in the world.  With Wall Street functioning more like a reckless casino than a serious allocator of capital to business, how can the Nation deal with its intractable unemployment problem? 

(8) Governor Romney, I’d like to read you a direct quote from a speech given in 2005 by your running mate, Paul Ryan, a man who will be a heart beat from the Presidency: “And so that’s what it meant to me and that’s what sort of fuels me as I try and move and stumble in areas to try and win these fights. I think if we win a few of these right now — moving health care to a consumer based, individualist system, moving Social Security to an individually preowned, prefunded retirement system — just those two things right there will do so much to change the dynamics in this society – will do so much to bring more people onto the side of demanding for accountability and individualism and transparency in government than anything else we can do.” Congressman Ryan made those remarks as the keynote speaker at a 2005 event honoring the author, Ayn Rand, whose views are much admired by Ryan and who despised government safety nets.  Will you tell us in concise terms if you will advocate for private accounts invested by Wall Street firms to replace our current Social Security program which has been restricted since its inception to investing in U.S. Treasury securities. 

(9) President Obama, when it comes to Wall Street, what do you see as the most critical thing you should have done differently over the past four years.

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