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Crucial Issues for the 2012 Presidential Debates

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The first presidential debate between President Barack Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney will be held on October 3rd in Denver, Colorado. Citizens everywhere are looking forward to this debate because much is at stake in the outcome of this election.

A number of very important questions have been discussed in the public domain. The more prominent ones will be addressed here.

The first thing on the minds of voters concerns the direction which America and the world are headed. A related question is America’s role in the world and the limits of Manifest Destiny. Do we carry a big stick or are we part of a coalition of countries with common goals and ways of implementing them? This related question is important because it gets to the heart of financial and military commitments which will be required over time. Our role in nation building is another key question to debate.

The next area is balancing the federal budget consistent with incremental growth in the GDP, as well as a more robust tax revenue base achieved from a thriving economy at some point. The debate needs to focus on how and when the federal budget will achieve balance, as well as strategies to stay that way. There are models for budget balancing in the years 1973 and again in 2000.

Health care delivery systems are another issue. The Patient Protection and
Affordable Care Act
is scheduled for full implementation by 2014. Voters need to know how the current Social Security System will be impacted by the act or the Ryan/Wyden plan. In addition, the candidates should opine on whether or not the overall goals of the public health care systems should promote disease management or health and wellness.

The debate should also focus on taxing junk food, soda, beer, cigarettes and potentially marijuana in order to obtain the revenues needed to preserve the existing public health systems and programs. A related question is reforming the tax code to raise additional revenues through a flat tax, applying consumption taxes to the underground economy or excess consumption taxes on non-nutritive foodstuffs.

Creating enough energy to support American industry, consumers and possibly energy exports is another important issue. Growth in solar energy, wind, geothermal, nuclear fusion, coal gasification, natural gas, ocean wave and related modalities needs to be discussed, as do safety issues in all of the energy modalities. Nuclear power plant safety is a continuing concern in light of random earthquakes and other contingencies.

The government’s role in safety regulation should focus on the approach each
candidate will take for energy production and the necessary regulation to protect the public and the environment from avoidable harm, as well as acts of God.

America’s population has grown at a robust rate of nearly a million people a year since 2000. Candidates should address this population growth and its impact on reducing the unemployment rate, increasing tax revenues, maintaining the current infrastructure, preserving the social safety net and managing domestic tranquility now and in the future.

Although the Vix Index has stabilized since 2008, the debates need to focus on
how investors will be protected from intermarket gyrations in the riskier derivative financial products. Will counterparties assume the risks of loss or will margin requirements be put into place to reduce exposure to investors and the stock market itself ?

The October 3rd debate will give Americans a glimpse of the candidates speaking extemporaneously, as well as the benefits and limitations of the various approaches offered. Voters should tune in and listen attentively.

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About Dr Joseph S Maresca

I've taught approx. 34 sections of collegiate courses including computer applications, college algebra, collegiate statistics, law, accounting, finance and economics. The experience includes service as a Board Director on the CPA Journal and Editor of the CPA Candidates Inc. Newsletter. In college, I worked as a statistics lab assistant. Manhattan College awarded a BS in an allied area of operations research. The program included courses in calculus, ordinary differential equations, probability, statistical inference, linear algebra , the more advanced operations research, price analysis and econometrics. Membership in the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society was granted together with the degree. My experience includes both private account and industry. In addition, I've worked extensively in the Examinations Division of the AICPA from time to time. Recently, I passed the Engineering in Training Exam which consisted of 9 hours of examination in chemistry, physics, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability/ statistics, fluids, electronics, materials science/structure of matter, mechanics, statics, thermodynamics, computer science, dynamics and a host of minor subject areas like engineering economics. A very small percentage of engineers actually take and pass the EIT exam. The number has hovered at circa 5%. Several decades ago, I passed the CPA examination and obtained another license in Computer Information Systems Auditing. A CISA must have knowledge in the areas of data center review, systems applications, the operating system of the computer, disaster recovery, contingency planning, developmental systems, the standards which govern facility reviews and a host of other areas. An MBA in Accounting with an Advanced Professional Certificate in Computer Applications/ Information Systems , an Advanced Professional Certificate in Finance and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Organizational Design were earned at New York University-Graduate School of Business (Stern ). In December of 2005, an earned PhD in Accounting was granted by the Ross College. The program entrance requires a previous Masters Degree for admittance together with a host of other criteria. The REGISTRAR of Ross College contact is: Tel . US 202-318-4454 FAX [records for Dr. Joseph S. Maresca Box 646 Bronxville NY 10708-3602] The clinical experience included the teaching of approximately 34 sections of college accounting, economics, statistics, college algebra, law, thesis project coursework and the professional grading of approx. 50,000 CPA examination essays with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, membership is held in the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society chartered in 1994. Significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences.
  • Baronius

    Doc – A word of advice. When I saw this article, I thought that it would be interesting, especially as it was about the issues “we” are interested in. The subject would have to keep you away from the topic of junk food taxes, since there’s no way you could tie it into our current national debate. But there you went and did it. It’s ok to have a favorite issue, but don’t let it become a hobby horse. Otherwise, this was a good article.

  • Try to react to specifics like America’s role in the world (and how we pay for it) ,
    health care issues, balancing the federal budget, tax policies, the government’s regulation
    of the stock market and other things covered in this article. Margin requirements for
    derivatives is probably the most important issue arising from the crash of ’08.

    Revenue sources is another huge area because excess consumption taxes can change
    behavior, as well as bring in new revenues for the Medicaid and other programs.

  • Baronius

    As I said, it’s a good article. You raised a lot of the right issues (although I would like to have seen them fleshed out a little). Just…it didn’t need more cowbell. Not every song needs cowbell.

  • The Visitor

    If you are going to critique someone’s writing, using a trite cliche like “cowbell” diminishes your opinion…so declares The Visitor

  • I’m hoping that the debate referees and the candidates themselves flesh out these
    issues. Then, I can critique what they’ve said once more information is available.
    A dissertation could be written on any one of these complex issues.

  • There will be little debate going on or interesting answers. Especially since these questions are all given to the candidates ahead of time.

  • It’s doubtful that the candidates have a preview of the exact questions. At most,
    they will know the general areas to be covered. The unknown is how candidates
    will answer the questions and what examples they will use to set up rebuttals.

    The dynamic will be different. Up to now, the presidential debates have been
    between candidates of the same party. Now, the debates will focus more on
    the differing philosophies and ways of governance between the two parties.

    For the first time, the public will see a contrast between the two candidates
    in a real live debate. Contrasts are important because they set up variable
    approaches to handling questions under pressure, the use of humor to lower
    the tension in the audience and the extemporaneous responses to questions
    from the moderator.

    Yes, the public will get a better glimpse of the candidates tonight and the debate
    itself could influence previously uncommitted voters. Right now, there are approximately
    5 to 10 million uncommitted voters.

  • Igor

    It’s a sham debate. Everything has been decided and pre-planned and a contract between the two contestants signed. The terms are secret.

  • Reggie Beauchamps

    This country is looking at fiscal sanity in the rear view mirror and there’s no R on the gearshift in the car we’re driving. I guess it’s like they say and the election is really a choice between the lesser of two evils. Vote for the guy who who will hasten the global apocalypse less and enjoy!

  • John Lake

    Igor, #8
    I believe the only thing clandestine or pre-arranged is the detail of fees paid to the media corporations involved in bringing the debate to the air.
    We hope the important issues can be discussed, and the people can make a choice.
    There might be some question as to the format, which has been outlined on the news channels, and seems not the best possible way of getting to the major issues.

  • Igor

    I haven’t heard Romney denounce his cohort Bush, yet, so I assume he’ll bring back those Bush policies that caused the big mess. I don’t think we can survive more Bush.

  • Reggie Beauchamps

    Nice logic there Igor.

    Republican = bad

    Democrat = good

  • Mitt Romney repeated a number of erroneous claims during Wednesday’s debate about President Obama’s healthcare law, including that it relies on a board that will decide “what kind of treatment” patients can get.

    This is a myth advanced repeatedly by critics of the Affordable Care Act and debunked consistently by independent fact-checkers.

    The board – known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board – was set up to recommend ways to reduce Medicare spending if it increases too rapidly.

    The panel of independent experts is empowered to suggest cuts to how much the federal government pays healthcare providers. These cuts would go into effect unless Congress votes to overturn them.

    But the panel is explicitly prohibited from cutting benefits for people on Medicare.

    And there is no provision in the law that empowers the advisory board to make any decisions about what treatments doctors may provide for their patients.

    Romney also said that his healthcare plan would cover those with preexisting conditions, embracing one of the most popular elements of Obama’s healthcare effort. He did not mention, however, that his plan would cover only those whose insurance had not already lapsed, in accordance with existing law.

    Romney’s plan would not guarantee insurance access to those who had lost insurance.

  • There is no getting around taxing junk food, alcohol, tobacco, sodas and maybe even pot
    to raise more money to fund the health care systems. That’s it- plain and simple. There
    should be a followup question to find out how Romney’s health care plan covers everyone,
    although in the first debate he explained the success of his programs for health care in Mass.

  • Igor

    @13-Jet: good post, Jet. Concise and to the point.

  • Thanks Igor, also owrth noting is that all through the campaign, Romney has concentrated specifically on prioritizing oil above other forms of energy, openly consulting with oil executives and donors on his energy policy. With a team led by an oil billionaire and fossil fuel lobbyists and industry campaign donations totaling $2.2 million, it’s really surprising that Romney has been suspiciously quiet on oil subsidies. Romney’s energy plan to open more public lands, wilderness preserves, and national parks to drilling and gut safety regulations would only help Big Oil.

    The world’s five largest oil corporations, which include Exxon, receive $2.4 billion in tax breaks annually, not the “small drillers” as Romney claims. Annual tax breaks for the entire oil and gas industry total $4 billion. The Center for American Progress details the specific deductions and tax breaks that oil companies receive at taxpayers’ cost.

    The public overwhelmingly favors ending these permanent tax breaks, at the same time Republicans claim they don’t exist. While the five largest oil companies earned $137 billion profit last year, and $60 billion for the first half of 2012, they paid relatively low taxes, like ExxonMobil’s 13 percent federal effective tax rate.

    If Republicans maintain the oil industry’s special tax breaks, Romney’s plan to lower corporate tax rates would provide the five largest oil companies with ANOTHER $2.3 billion subsidy annually!!!

    Dumping funding for PBS was a joke and would not do anything towards the deficit. it was obviously a nod toward rabid social conservatives that think Big Bird is teaching kids to love homosexuals…

  • There is something called coal gasification which is supposed to be much cleaner. We should be talking about coal gasification, the Artificial Sun, wind, solar, solar and desalination plant combinations, ocean wave energy, geothermal, NG where environmentally feasible and many others. Some really top stocks like Juhl Wind are going absolutely nowhere. ( and they should be doing much better)

  • Clav


    The Los Angeles Times gratefully accepts your compliment.

  • Clav

    it was obviously a nod toward rabid social conservatives that think Big Bird is teaching kids to love homosexuals…

    Actually, the real concern is that BB and his buds are teaching kids to love socialism, as Saul Alinsky did for Barack.

    Homosexuals are harmless; the Alinskys of the world are not.

  • My Reaction:
    This panel of independent experts is appointed by the President and not by Congress or an independent
    committee. In addition, recommending ways to reduce expenditures ultimately impacts patients. The
    big thing that’s left out in both candidates is taxing junk food to make up for shortfalls. This is about
    the only way to get the money to pay for the public health care programs and no-one is really
    addressing the issue. Mayor Bloomberg is touching upon a very close area by banning sodas over
    16 ounces but even he has not called for taxing junk food yet. People like Dr. Gary Null speak
    about the problems with junk food on a daily basis.

    The idea that Romney’s plan doesn’t guarantee access to those who lost insurance must be responded
    to by the candidate. Although, the Hill Burton Program (1946) provides free health care or
    significantly reduced health costs to income levels up to $98,000/ year. We should be funding this
    program more significantly and no-one is really talking about this except for myself. We really need
    to address the Hill Burton Program in the formal Presidential Debates to be fair to millions of people
    out there who know absolutely nothing about the program.