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I've checked my phone and my email diligently every day for the last month, but no one ever reached out to invite me to join the panel of questioners at the Republican primary debate here in Milwaukee this week. Apparently they're willing to come into our town and use our electricity to beam their fantastic tales far and wide, but they will not deign to offer anyone from here a chance to ask the tough questions.
So now I have this pile of unasked queries just sitting around the house taking up space. Luckily, I remembered I have access to the internet, and I can put them here. So I will.
1. For all candidates ...
Should it be legal for you and your campaign to coordinate with political action committees that support you?
See, here in Wisconsin, the Legislature and Supreme Court have conspired to loosen up the rules, allowing that kind of coordination (retroactively saving Gov. Scott Walker's bacon) for state races even though it is still technically a violation of federal law and federal court precedent.
It's that way because PACs are shielded from a lot of the disclosure rules your campaigns are subject to – although, again, here in Wisconsin, the state legislature is working hard to weaken our disclosure rules.
Now I know some of you have already faced criticism for seeming to violate this rule, but don't let your own shady doings from this campaign taint your answer. Be honest! Should candidates be allowed to coordinate how all that dark money gets spent?
2. For Ben Carson ...
In the last week, many people have criticized you for embellishing your personal history and your bizarre beliefs, including why the pyramids were built. I don't care about any of that.
Instead, how can you, as a supposedly devout Christian and retired health care provider, seriously consider eliminating Medicare and Medicaid, programs that provide health insurance coverage for the Americans who need it most?
Yeah, yeah, you talk of replacing those programs with "savings accounts" or whatever, even though there's no way to fund both future accounts and support current needs and even though a one-size-fits-all savings account will in no way cover the variety of health care needs for America's poor and elderly. You're dooming millions of this country's neediest people and families to lives of sickness, hardship and despair. That would seem to violate both the Hippocratic oath of "First, do no harm" and the basic tenets of your faith – how do you reconcile that?
3. For Ohio Gov. John Kasich ...
The governor-elect across the border from you in Kentucky, Matt Bevin, is planning to eliminate the successful "KYNect" health care marketplace and the state program that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. You remain committed to the Medicaid expansion in Ohio, however, for which you deserve much credit.
My question is, if you had a chance for a closed-door meeting with Bevin, how would you try to persuade him not to take away health insurance for all those people? I say closed-door, because I want your honest take on those who, like Bevin or Walker here in Wisconsin, refuse to take advantage of a program that is proven to save lives and help families, rather than any polite debate-stage side-stepping. Seriously, governor, let 'er rip.
4. For Rand Paul ...
You're a U.S. senator from Kentucky, so it will be your constituents who suffer under Bevin's decision to abandon the ACA and its Medicaid expansion. What would you say to someone who comes to your office and asks for help because she just lost her health insurance, thanks to Matt Bevin and the Kentucky Republican Party?
5. For Donald Trump ...
Really? I mean, come on. Really?
6. For all candidates ...
Four years ago, Mitt Romney promised that he would cut unemployment to six percent if he were elected president. The jobs report out last Friday has unemployment now at five percent. And many of you now on stage have insisted over the years that the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – would have a disastrous effect on unemployment and the economy, as would Obama's environmental regulations, tax policy and more.
How do you reconcile all of those doom-and-gloom predictions with reality?
7. For Ted Cruz ...
You took some criticism in the last week because a PAC supporting you released an ad that said, "After Sandy Hook, Ted Cruz stopped Obama’s push for new gun control laws." Sandy Hook Elementary School was, of course, the site where 26 people, including 20 children, were massacred.
While invoking Sandy Hook in the ad may or may not have been in poor taste – and I know, as established earlier, you have absolutely no control over anything those PACs do for your campaign! – the bigger question is what, if not different gun policy, can we do to stop the accidental gun deaths of more than 100 American children every year? Or do you believe that the deaths of such innocents are a reasonable price to pay for America's current lax gun regulation?
8. For Marco Rubio ...
At the last debate, you got a lot of mileage out of suggesting that a question on your tax plan was wrong. It was not wrong, of course; your tax plan really is more beneficial for higher earners than the middle class. Further, when you claimed at the debate that your plan is best for the bottom of the income scale, that is correct only because of a new entitlement credit that you sometimes deny you will actually provide.
Which is it, senator? Are you really offering a new entitlement to all Americans, or are you just saying so to make it seem like you care about the poor as much (or more than) your wealthy donors?
9. For all candidates ...
Whether or not you think global climate change is real or doing anything about it is worthwhile, we are suffering the effects of clinging to 19th century energy technologies.
There's a train derailed right now here in Wisconsin leaking ethanol into the Mississippi River, one of dozens of oil-train derailments in the Midwest in the last year. There's a scary-looking 100-year-old bridge just a mile from this stage that carries tens of thousands of tons of oil every week through the heart of one of Milwaukee's most vibrant neighborhoods, a massive tragedy waiting to happen.
Why do all of you insist not only that oil and other fossil fuels are not only safe, when they are clearly not, but also that pursuit of alternative, safer energy is a waste of time and money?
10. For Jeb Bush ...
Your father made news last week when it was revealed that he thinks your brother, former President George W. Bush, was harmed by his underlings, including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney, who were too quick to push for war and other policies that turned out ill-advised.
You, on the other hand, have been steadfast in defense of your brother and his policies, even though history and the sentiment of the American people would seem to disagree with you.
My question is this: On a scale of 1-10, just how awkward will your Thanksgiving be this year? And will you drop out of this race before or after the turkey gets carved?