Watchdog Blog

Morton Mintz: Off-the-Beaten-Track Questions for Candidates

Posted at 10:54 am, October 20th, 2006
Morton Mintz Mug

Note to reporters covering House and Senate races: It’s not too late to raise some questions unrelated to the news-of-the-moment but very much related to people’s lives. For example:

  • Is universal access to affordable, high-quality health care a human right and a public good, such as roads and fire and police protection?
  • C.E.O.s of the biggest U.S. corporations were paid about 40 times more than their average workers in the 1960s and 1970s. Today they’re paid about 367 times more. What if anything should Congress do about this?
  • Would you give the IRS the money and resources it needs to capture the estimated $311 billion a year lost to tax-cheating?
  • The co-author of a new book on the minimum wage says that it buys less today than in 1951, and that at $5.15 an hour, “it takes nearly two minimum-wage workers to earn what one made 38 years ago.” Would you support or oppose raising the minimum wage with a “clean” bill that would do only that, and if you would support such a bill, how big a raise would you favor?
  • Is a president protecting the lives, safety, health, and pocketbooks of Americans when he appoints an industry lobbyist or executive to enforce the very regulations he’d been paid to weaken or defeat, say, a mining-industry executive to regulate mine safety?
  • Is the prohibition on negotiation of drug prices for Medicare Part D consistent or inconsistent with the principles of free competitive enterprise?
  • The prices paid by Medicare recipients for 10 popular medicines were on average 80 percent higher than those negotiated by the Veterans Administration for the same medicines, the Democratic staff of the House Government Reform Committee found in a 2005 study. Would you extend the prohibition on negotiation of drug prices for Medicare Part D to the VA, or do you see negotiation of drug prices as consistent with the principles of free competitive enterprise?
  • The 2003 tax cuts averaged less than $200 annually for households with $50,000 incomes, $400 for those with $75,000 incomes, and nearly $25,000 for those with incomes of around $1 million. Were these tax cuts fair, and were they designed to increase the ability of most Americans to buy necessities and other items and thus boost the economy?
  • Do the campaign-finance and lobbying laws legalize bribery?
  • Do you trust Congress to police its own ethics, or would you assign the mission to an independent body?

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