The Washington Post

Five easy queries

So far, the Republican debates have focused so much on immigration and other interesting but peripheral issues — e.g., the impact of Human Papilloma Virus on ”innocent girls” in Texas — that there’s been hardly any time to talk about the most important things that are actually happening in the country and the world, and what the candidates might actually do about some of these actual issues.

In the possibly vain hope that tonight’s debate on the economy might bring the discussion back down to earth, I offer the following reality-based questions:

1. Europe is at the brink of a financial crisis that could destroy the Euro currency and damage the U.S. economy. If you were president, what would you be advising the European leaders, and what steps would you be taking to insulate the U.S. from collateral damage

2. For decades, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac provided federally-backed liquidity for 30-year home mortgages. Now both are bankrupt and operating at a loss under federal receivership. What, if anything, should Congress do to replace them?

3. Do you favor ending the Federal Reserve’s “dual mandate,” which legally requires it to maximize both price stability and employment? (Ron Paul can take a bye on that one. In fact, I hope he does.)

4. Should the Treasury Department immediately sell its 25 percent stake in General Motors, even though the stock is down more than $10 from its initial price, and the taxpayers would take a loss?

5. The Postal Service is practically bankrupt, threatening to reduce delivery service to five days a week amid are real questions as to whether the country even needs postal delivery in an age of instant messaging and Skype. As president, what would you urge Congress to do with the Postal Service?

Charles Lane is a Post editorial writer, specializing in economic policy, federal fiscal issues and business, and a contributor to the PostPartisan blog.


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