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September 4, 2015

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J. Patrick Coolican:

Six questions I’d like to ask President Barack Obama

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Paul Takahashi

President Barack Obama makes a campaign-style stump speech at UNLV’s Cox Pavilion on Thursday, June 7, 2012. Obama made a two-hour pit stop in Las Vegas to urge Congress not to raise student loan interest rates.

J. Patrick Coolican

J. Patrick Coolican

Last time Mitt Romney was in town, I had six questions for him and promised I’d do the same for President Barack Obama, who will be in North Las Vegas today. So, here goes.

1. Here in Las Vegas, although the economy has begun to recover in fits and starts, 69 percent of our homeowners are underwater on their mortgages. Despite success helping stabilize banks and the auto industry, the government’s response to this crisis has mostly failed, especially in the hardest-hit states of Arizona, Florida, California and Nevada. As The New York Times reported this week, “As of May, 4.3 million people had applied for aid, but only 1 million had received government-sponsored modifications, according to the most recent data. About a third of those turned away lost their homes, were facing foreclosure or filed for bankruptcy.”

What would you have done differently, and what now?

2. Ta-Nehisi Coates, writing about the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old American-born son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, notes the continued expansion of presidential power: “(F)rom this point forward the presidency means the right to unilaterally declare American citizens to be American enemies, and then kill them.” Is this conclusion wrong? How so?

3. An 11-mile stretch of the Mississippi River is closed due to low water levels from the drought. This is important because $180 billion in goods go up and down the river, and barges are reportedly lightening loads to keep from getting stuck.

The drought has many thinking about climate change, but thus far, the campaign has featured almost nothing about this issue.

How would you address climate change in a second term in light of the failure of climate change legislation in your first term and in light of the climate change denialism of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives?

4. If the Drug War were 100 percent effective and arrested every user, you wouldn’t be president today because of your admitted use of marijuana and cocaine. Has the Drug War been successful, and if not, what are you doing about its failure?

5. You’ve said all options are on the table with respect to a nuclear Iran. What would be the consequences of a military strike against Iran?

6. Last year, you entered into a negotiation over the debt ceiling and reportedly offered a deficit-reduction deal to Republicans that was heavily tilted toward spending cuts that would have eviscerated important priorities while securing very little new revenue from the richest taxpayers most able to pay. What were you thinking?

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