The Commission on Presidential Debates has announced the topics for Thursday’s debate: fighting covid-19; American families; race in America; climate change; national security; and leadership. President Trump continues to whine about the topics and the moderators, but unless he ducks the debate, former vice president Joe Biden will have the chance to lock up the few remaining undecided voters and make certain his own supporters turn out.

On Tuesday, I listed questions that President Trump should have to answer for each of the debate topics listed, except for covid-19, since it was already a topic in the first debate. Now, here are the questions Biden should address:

Families:

  • If you add a public option to the Affordable Care Act, will private insurance dry up?
  • What’s the rationale for free college tuition?
  • President Barack Obama championed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have opened up Asian markets, boxed out China and helped support our democratic allies. Shouldn’t we pass it?
  • How big should the next covid-19 relief package be? Do you have any concern about the mounting debt?
  • Should anyone be exempted from federal non-discrimination rules in the name of religious beliefs?
  • How do you intend to address concerns of workers in non-renewable-fuel industries who might be displaced in the years ahead?
  • Is immigration good for the United States?
  • What gun safety measures will you propose?

Race in America:

  • Given that there is systemic racism in policing, housing, wealth accumulation, education and other facets of American life, how do you close the White/Black divide?
  • How will you approach diversity among executive employees and judicial appointees?
  • What Obama-era enforcement initiatives do you favor bringing back to address racial injustice in policing and criminal courts?
  • Would you seek to end gerrymandering?
  • President Trump abolished certain diversity training in the federal government. Would you bring it back, and if so, what should it teach?
  • How will you use your pardon power to address nonviolent drug offenders?

Climate change:

  • Should you reenter the Paris climate accords, what changes, if any, will you require?
  • How do you get India and China to reduce emissions? What sanctions, if any, would you consider if they do not?
  • Why shouldn’t we employ a carbon tax?
  • Will you reinstate Obama-era fuel standards for car manufacturers?
  • Do we need a federal wildfire-fighting operation given the increase in the number and severity of fires?
  • Will you allow states such as California to pass climate change measures that exceed federal standards?
  • Will you commit to not hiring any lobbyists or former executives of oil or coal companies?

National security:

  • How would you confront Russian President Vladimir Putin on human rights, on interfering in our election, on bounties placed on U.S. troops, on war crimes in Syria and on his support for Venezuela dictator Nicolás Maduro? What sanctions, if any, would you apply?
  • Do we need to reevaluate our relationship with Saudi Arabia?
  • We have yet to stop China from stealing intellectual property. How will you succeed when other presidents have failed?
  • How many U.S. troops are needed in Iraq and Afghanistan? How long must they remain?
  • North Korea has been unwilling to denuclearize. What would you do about it?
  • If you reenter the Iran nuclear deal, what changes, if any, would you require?
  • How do you repair strained relations with allies?

Leadership:

  • If Congress rejects your entreaties and blocks your initiatives, will you resort to executive orders on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), guns and other controversial matters?
  • Has the executive branch become too powerful? What would you do to rebalance power among the three branches?
  • How do you address the Justice Department’s damaged credibility? How would you hold the agency’s employees accountable if they broke the law or department guidelines or violated professional ethics rules?
  • Do you favor some sort of truth commission to clear up the record on Trump-era scandals?
  • How would you prevent the politicization of the military and intelligence community?
  • What measures will you put in place if you are disabled and cannot transfer power to the vice president via the 25th Amendment? Will you make all health records available and allow your doctors to respond to any questions about your health?

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Distrust in the Trump administration has turned into distrust of science, adding to an already powerful anti-vaccine movement. (The Washington Post)

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