Vice presidential debate: 6 questions that should be asked … and probably won’t

Tonight’s vice presidential debate in Danville, Kentucky between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan on domestic and foreign policy will hit six topics over the course of an hour and a half. Moderator Martha Raddatz of the ABC News can’t possibly get in all the questions on the minds of Americans.  

Here are six questions that policy experts think should be asked, but probably won’t, including one from David Addington, former chief of staff and counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney:

David Addington, Heritage Foundation: Given the very limited constitutional role of the Vice President, most of what a Vice President does is provide advice and assistance to the President, to the extent the President wants it.  Do you have any understandings with the head of your ticket about what your role as Vice President in the next four years would be and, if so, what are those understandings?

Rich Benjamin, Demos: From punitive policy proposals (fingerprinting public assistance recipients) to negative portrayals in the media, to condescending talk in politics, to vernacular slurs (“poor white trash”), hostility to the poor abounds.  Why does America hate poor people so much?

Danielle Pletka, American Enterprise Institute: Foreign policy has been largely absent from the stage in this election, but in many ways, the job of the Vice President has been to wrangle especially challenging national security issues. Vice President Biden, that portfolio has included Iraq, a country which you once suggested be divided in three. But Iraq seems to be headed in the wrong direction. Do you and the administration believe, having chosen to exit Iraq in 2011, and with Maliki aiding Assad in Syria and answering to many demands from Tehran, that Iraq is an administration success story? Mr. Ryan, you rarely addressed the question of Iraq when on the Hill, what would you have counseled the president to do differently?

Rebecca MacKinnon, New America Foundation: Soon after U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stephens was killed in Benghazi, the China Daily ran an op-ed arguing that the U.S. has “paid a huge price” for its “Internet freedom” policy. How do you respond to this – especially in light of the fact that the White House asked YouTube to censor the “Innocence of Muslims” film trailer even though its content falls well within the bounds of First Amendment-protected speech?

Jim Kessler, Third Way: You both say the federal deficit is too large and needs fixing, please name three things that you would do to reduce the deficit that would anger people in your own party.

Phil Wallach, Brookings Institution: In Federalist No. 70, Alexander Hamilton argued that “energy in the executive is a leading character in the definition of good government.”  Today, especially with our Congress so profoundly gridlocked, energetic uses of executive power are often the primary means of pursuing important policy goals.  How do you and your running mate think about the tendency to use executive actions as substitutes for legislative action?  As a former and current member of Congress, do you worry that pursuing your ticket’s policy goals without Congress’s cooperation could disrupt America’s institutional balance of power?

What questions are on your mind?

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