America, we are less than 30 days away from heading to the polling booth to pick our next leader and the most powerful person in the world. We have some serious problems in our country and as a democracy, our country’s problems are all of our problems. An election should be about interviewing the potential candidates and deciding which is best prepared lead our country. Unfortunately, today neither candidate is talking about the issues that really matter and both candidates lack any sort of a plan to take our nation forward. Imagine interviewing someone for the CEO position at a company and not asking that person what their goals would be and what their plan would be to achieve those goals? Our presidential race—which should be the most intense of all job interviews—requires a full discussion of the issues, and what plans the candidates have to move our nation forward. What we have been treated to thus far is nothing more than a poorly produced reality show with very little attention paid to our most daunting challenges. We deserve better.
Here is a list of questions that the country deserves to hear answers from both candidates on Sunday night:
1. As a nation, we are $19 Trillion in debt. Are there any specific programs that you would increase funding for? Are there any programs that you would eliminate or reduce? Are there any taxes that you would raise? Please be specific.
2. Our tax code is 74,000 pages long and has changed 4,680 times in the last 15 years. Do you have any specific plans to change our tax code? Please be specific.
3. In the United States, we have 751 prisoners for every 100,000 People. Between the years of 1925 and 1975 that number was 110. Our prison population has exploded. In England the number is 151, in Germany it is 88 and in Japan it is 63. Do you have any specific plans to reduce our prison population?
4. We spend the most money in the world on health care, 17% of our GDP, and we are ranked number 46 in the Global Health Ranking. What would you specifically do to reduce health care costs? What would you do to improve the health of the American people so that we did not need to spend so much money in the first place?
5. Former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen said “The greatest threat to our national security is our debt.” The United States makes up 4% of the world’s population and spends 42% of the world’s defense dollars. Do you have any specific plans to reduce military spending? Please be specific.
6. Franklin Roosevelt was opposed to government unions. In 2011, USA Today reported that in over fifteen federal agencies, your chances of dying on the job were higher than be fired. Since the government is of the people, by the people, and for the people, do you think government unions are an asset or a liability in creating a high performance work place for the people?
7. We have the largest economy in the world and yet our national infrastructure is rated a D+. We are falling far behind other nations when it comes to infrastructure because the gas tax (currently 18.4 cents per gallon) has not been increased since 1993. Over the last 23 years the cost of construction has increased and the average miles per gallon has gone way up leaving little money to invest in our infrastructure. What are your plans to improve the nation’s transportation system? How would you pay for it? Would you support an increase in the gas tax?
8. Social Security has helped hundreds of millions of Americans since its inception in 1935. Today, this program hangs by a financial thread. The current payroll tax that funds the program is set at 6% of wages up to $116,000. If that cap was eliminated, an additional $130 billion would be raised annually, only 5% of the highest wage earners would be affected, and Social Security would be in great financial shape. Would you support eliminating the cap?
9. Last year there were over 12,000 Americans who lost their lives to gun violence and over 75,000 were maimed. This horrific violence costs the country $229 billion annually. In the United States, you have a 29.7 in 100,000 chance of being murdered. In Canada that number is .51, and in Germany the number is .19. If you live in the United States your chances of being murdered are 152 times more likely than if you were in Germany. The Germans have much stricter gun laws than we do in the United States. What specific changes would you make to our gun laws?
10. Our Congress doesn’t appear to be very productive. Congress has a 12% approval rating while racking up $19 trillion in debt. For 4 years between 2009 and 2013, Congress did not pass an annual budget. 92% of congressional candidates who spend the most amount of money win their election. In 1974 3% of retiring members of Congress took lobbying jobs. Today that number is 43%. If you could make any changes to improve the value that Congress delivers to the American people what changes would you make?
The office of the President is the most important seat in the entire world. If we are to have any confidence in the future performance of this country, we need the candidates for this job to answer some serious questions as we conduct our interview so that we, the people, can make an informed decision on November 8th.
John Burke is the President of Trek Bicycle and the author of “12 Simple Solutions to Save America”