I may have mentioned that I only subscribe to the Sunday edition of my local paper any more, mostly for the coupons and the crossword puzzles (from the New York Times and LA Times, one week old). But their editorial this Sunday got my interest. They plan on posing queries to the presidential candidates, and shared their top five. They are (to be charitable) a mixed bag:
- Arguments over impeaching President Trump are just the latest example of our sharply divided nation. Why are you the best candidate to break the partisan gridlock and unite the country?
- Life expectancy in the United States has declined for three straight years and New Hampshire saw the greatest rise in mortality at 23.3% for people aged 25-64. An American Medical Association study cites the cause as “drug overdoses, alcohol abuse, suicides, and a diverse list of organ system diseases.” As president, how would you address this troubling trend?
- With tens of millions of Americans uninsured or under-insured, and even those who are insured faced with charges they didn’t expect and prescription medications they cannot afford, what is your plan to contain health care costs while maintaining quality of care?
- Where in your list of priorities is climate change? If it is a high priority, what would you do and how would you engage people from the other side of the political aisle to pass meaningful legislation, while being mindful of the impact on consumers and the economy?
- Is it possible to put the nation on a better track in terms of its trillion-dollar budget deficits, a record setting national debt and the resulting generational burden? How can it be done while also sustaining Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security?
But then what to my wondering eyes did appear:
Before sending these questions to the candidates we’d like to invite you, our readers, to join our editorial board process and let us know if there’s an issue you think is critical that we’ve missed.
If you like our questions, would you rephrase them in any way to make them sharper? Attached to the end of this editorial is a Google form for you to tell us and through us the candidates, what’s most important to you. We’ll collect your responses for a week and then send the questions out to all the candidates, including President Donald Trump, and publish their responses as soon as we receive them. When the candidates come in for their meetings with the editorial board we’ll dig deeper into these issues based on their responses. And we plan to livestream all our editorial board meetings with candidates from this point forward to increase community access.
Well, shoot. I've had questions in the back of my mind for literally years. And so here's what I proposed, off the top of my head:
(1) The Office of Management and Budget (https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/historical-tables/ Table 1.2) says that in the most recent fiscal year, 2018, Federal Government receipts were 16.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and its outlays were 20.3% of GDP.
Average receipts from 1946 to 2018 were 17.2% of GDP; average outlays were 19.4% of GDP.
What would your administration propose those numbers look like instead?
(2) A lot of candidates promise to make the "rich pay their fair share of taxes". The Tax Foundation (https://taxfoundation.org/summary-latest-federal-income-tax-data-2018-update/), summarizing IRS data, says the top 1% of income earners earned 19.7% of all reported adjusted gross income. They paid 37.3% of all Federal individual income tax receipts.
What would that percentage have to be for you to call it "fair"?
They only ask for the question; no names, e-mail addresses, phone, etc. So I don't know if my questions will actually make it to the candidates.