Las Vegas Sun

August 31, 2015

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Sun Editorial:

Forget the facts?

If we can’t get those straight, let’s look at the issues in the campaign

Another view?

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In the wake of the presidential debate last week and the various attack ads that dominate the airwaves in Nevada, let’s take a second to talk about issues. You know, the things that will matter when the successful candidates take office.

Where they stand on the issues is important because it will determine what they will try to do in office.

However, the issues, like the facts, have been brushed aside by too many candidates and their campaigns. Consider Neil Newhouse, Mitt Romney’s pollster, who last month dismissed the independent groups examining the veracity of the campaigns by saying, “We’re not going let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.”

Right. Why let the facts mess up a strong ad or a tough line of attack?

Factual accuracy came up during the debate. Romney had the gumption to chide President Barack Obama, challenging the truth of some of his statements, saying, “Mr. President, you’re entitled, as the president, to your own airplane and to your own house, but not to your own facts, all right?”

Great line — it got a laugh — but Romney should look in the mirror. Some of the evening’s biggest truth benders came from him, such as the reprise of the well-debunked claim that under Obamacare, bureaucrats would make health care decisions instead of doctors. At least he didn’t use the phrase “death panels,” but he didn’t have to — people knew what he meant.

Since the facts have become flexible and have obfuscated the debate, let’s get down to the core issues and discuss the candidates’ philosophies. Here are some issues we’d like to see get a real discussion and some questions we’d like to see answered:

Health care: During the debate, Romney said he would repeal the president’s health care law, the same one that was modeled after his health care law in Massachusetts. Never mind the contradiction; do people have a right to health care — not just emergency care but basic health care? Since access to health care really depends on insurance, should insurance be portable and less reliant on employers? For that matter, do they think the government should do anything to make insurance more affordable?

Medicare and Social Security: These two “entitlements” have been in focus thanks, in no small part, to Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which would upend the programs. So, let’s ask a foundational question: Should Americans even have basic safety nets of Medicare and Social Security? If so, should seniors be guaranteed health insurance? Should the Social Security Trust Fund be off limits to Congress? What about raising the age for Social Security, as Romney proposes, meaning a construction worker would be on the job well into his 60s?

The economy: It’s easy to talk about creating more jobs, but how? Once again, we’ll ignore Romney’s contradictions — he said he wouldn’t cut taxes on the wealthy, but his proposals seem to indicate otherwise — and we’ll just ask about government’s role. Should the nation cut taxes to stimulate the economy? If so, who gets the cuts, and given that trickle-down economics hasn’t worked, how will it this time? If regulation is the issue, what specifically would be cut and what kind of impact would that have? For example, how would repealing Wall Street reforms, as Romney has proposed, help the average Americans who was burned by the financial market’s excesses?

The debt: The nation didn’t get into this mess overnight, nor will it get out of it immediately, so how does the nation address it? Budget cuts or tax increases? Or both? Should the nation slash food stamps and anti-poverty programs, as the Ryan budget does? Should Congress repeal the Bush tax cuts for the rich or close tax loopholes for the “job creators,” who haven’t been creating many jobs?

We have more questions, and there are other issues to talk about, such as housing and education, but this is a start; we’d welcome the discussion.

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