By Amy Payne
The Heritage Foundation
Tonight’s presidential debate is the last one that will include questions on domestic policy. The previous presidential and vice presidential debates covered a host of issues, but there are key questions still to be answered. Heritage experts submitted five issues below—with questions—that it is important to discuss before the debate moves on to foreign policy exclusively.
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1. Welfare reform
Since the 1960s, government has spent nearly $20 trillion on the War on Poverty. The federal government now runs about 80 programs providing aid to the poor. Government at all levels spends nearly $1 trillion annually to fight poverty. The Obama Administration unilaterally issued a policy gutting the work requirement from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
Question: Should all able-bodied recipients be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving aid in federal public housing, food stamps, and cash assistance programs?
The United States ranks 10th in the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom. Trade barriers, from tariffs to a lack of free trade agreements with other countries, hinder America’s prosperity. Brand new research from Heritage shatters trade misconceptions, showing that imports—from China—actually create jobs here in the United States.
Question: The United States’ ranking in various international measures of economic freedom and competitiveness has dropped dramatically over the last 4 years. What policies would you propose to help Americans regain the economic freedom they have lost?
There has been lots of discussion about Medicare, but what about Medicaid, which delivers health care primarily to the poor? Half the gain in coverage under Obamacare was projected by adding millions more to Medicaid. On average, Medicaid physicians are paid only about 58 percent of what private insurance pays. According to a recent study, in 2011, one out of three Medicaid doctors would not accept new Medicaid patients—with a direct correlation to physician reimbursement rates. While the health care law does temporarily raise the payment rate for Medicaid primary care doctors, after 2014, these same doctors will face a 19 percent pay cut.
Question: What will you do to ensure that Medicaid beneficiaries get better access to health care?
4. Federal Spending and Debt
In 2012, the federal government spent $29,691 per household, $9,398 of which was deficit spending. Meanwhile, the national debt per taxpayer climbed to more than $111,000, which is more than twice what the average American can expect to earn in 2012.
Question: How would you cut spending and reduce the debt burden for Americans?
5. American-Produced Energy
Hydraulic fracturing—called fracking—has helped tap vast supplies of oil and natural gas in the United States. The boom in natural gas from the use of hydraulic fracturing has attracted the attention of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior—even as states have been effective at regulating fracking. Unnecessary layers of federal red tape would slow energy production and much-needed economic growth in the United States.
Question: How do you see the role of states in regulating energy production?