WASHINGTON (CNN) - I am going to be hosting a Democratic presidential debate on Monday, January 21, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The CNN debate will be co-sponsored with the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. Suzanne Malveaux and Joe Johns will be joining me in the questioning. All of us are really looking forward to this debate which coincides with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the United States.
It comes just before the Democratic primary in South Carolina on Saturday, January 26. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards all have respective strengths and weaknesses in that state. Hopefully, we will be able to learn more about these three candidates during that forum, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on CNN. The two earlier Democratic debates I moderated – in New Hampshire in early June and in Nevada in November – included a lot more candidates. Several of them, as you know, have dropped out. This one should be more manageable.
There are so many questions all of us have about the candidates. I have my ideas, and am excited, but l really want to hear from you - I would love your input. Let me know what you would ask these Democratic candidates if you had the chance. This race for the White House is at a pivotal point for the Democrats and the Republicans. And the stakes for the nation are very high. Thanks in advance.
For all Democratic candidates:
Like most Americans, I'm worried about the economy, high unemployment and why so many jobs continue to be sent overseas, national security because of our open borders, the rise in violent crimes, the amount of foreign oil used in the US daily, being able to assist the poor with heating costs, standards of education with overcrowded classrooms, the rise of identity theft with the delay action on the “No Match” letters, our ever increasing welfare costs, health care coverage and why so many hospitals are being forced to close.
Congress and the current administration are directly responsible for all the jobs sent out of the country by greedy corporations because of our so called “fair trade bills, but all of the other issues tie back to illegal aliens. So please explain to the citizens of America why you feel the need to do anything other than telling this group, who have been a huge drain on our taxes for years that they must leave to their own country with all of their family, apply for citizenship, and not return to the United States until they receive their documentation to do so? We tried amnesty when Reagan was President and it only encouraged people to continue entering our country illegally.
And yes Hillary, when men, women, or children cross our borders illegally, they are, each and every one, ILLEGAL!
I have 5 problems with the current pay methods for members of Congress.
Should the members of Congress decide when they should receive a raise and how much that raise should be? No one else in this country has that right. That decision is made by our employers, (which in the case of Congress would be the citizens of this country).
Why are members of Congress exempt on paying Social Security taxes? Shouldn't they be taxed like every other American?
Should the members of Congress continue to be paid if they are not re-elected? Why should Congress continue to be paid when other employer in the country continues to pay employees when they leave their job?
Why should Americans continue to pay any member of Congress who has been convicted crime? Again, no other American continues to receive payroll benefits since they would no longer be performing their job duties.
Do you think if the members of Congress were paid on an hourly basis that they would be in session not only more than 3 days a week, (a total of 156 of the 365 days in the year), that they could actually address the concerns and needs of the citizens who elected them?
Finally, Senators and Representatives work for US, so as the employer of Congress, the citizens of America should be making these decisions, not our employees!
To each of the candidates
The two Texas Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting a Mexican drug runner in the backside while on duty ,
Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean are in prison, as narcotic traffickers and human smugglers laugh at law enforcement for they are not prosecute -instead will prosecute officers who do their job and keep that poison off our streets and out of our schools, parks, and neighborhoods, Would any of you give them a full pardon? Thank you
To all the candiates running, How can any of you support abortion when down deep you know it is wrong.
Did it ever cross your mind. What would Jesus do ?
Do you support and will you fully fund and implement NASA's plan to establish a Manned Lunar Base within the next decade?
In terms of our typically developing children, our public schools systems cannot even compete globally with other countries,...how do you plan to even address the special education needs in public school when our typically developing children aren't even coming out competitive?
The US space program has and should continue to benefit this country by driving the development of new technology which improves our economic security and national defense. It also inspires our young people to become future leaders in the areas of science,and technology.
In recent years, the NASA funding level has not adequately supported the goals and objectives of the agency. The lack of adequate funding has delayed the development of a new space transport vehicle and forced the agancy to use the antiquated and high risk space shuttle or pay the Russians to deliver crew/supplies to the space station. NASA's announcement to return to the moon has created a lot of excitement within and outside of the US, but funding levels have delayed a lunar mission to the 2018 time frame (or later). The recent announcements of a manned lunar mission from China and India indicate that the US will eventually lose its lead in the area of space exploration if a change in the NASA funding level is not realized. A loss in space technology leadership will also negatively impact US economic security and national defense.
Please ask the candidates what their position is on funding NASA for the development of the shuttle replacement spacecraft, launch vehicle and manned lunar missions.
For all Democratic candidates:
Obama and Clinton have made statements related to NASA. Both statements talked about earth science, astronomy, etc, but failed to put forth an underlying principle of space exploration. Obama mentioned cutting the new rocket and crew capsule, Clinton left lunar missions out of her manned space comments, so I have no idea if they really support the USA going farther and farther out. So ask one of the following to get an idea of how they balance NASAs perceived missions to study Earth, study space, and to take humans permanently to the moon and Mars. Or do they think it is a complete waste to ever go.
If you could send $10 billion back in time to the Apollo program for 5 more manned moon flights, would you do it? Other than anti-Soviet effects in the Cold War context, what do you think were the main benefits of the Apollo program and were they worth the money? Does a manned lunar program make sense now? What would be the benefit, and what percent of the budget would it 'deserve'?
Suppose for a minute that we continue for decades with the space station as the only manned spaceflight activity, and China lands on the moon and builds a long term outpost there in 2028. Suppose this election were taking place in that year, what would be your stump speech in response to this development? What would be your policy proposal for our space program then? Will it ever matter if humans walk on Mars? Why? If so, what should be accomplished there to make it worthwhile?
Both Democrats and Republicans are united on lowering taxes and increasing spending resulting in a huge deficit and future bankruptcies of Medicaid and social security. How about some straight talk about hard decisions our republic will have to make to survive?
For all the candidates:
You have all assured the American people that you acknowledge the value that space research has contributed to our society, and some of you have put forth your intended space policies. Sadly, they seem rather tepid and noncommital.
Regardless of its source and if sufficiently funded, the Vision for Space Exploration offers the potential of tapping vast resources and developing sophisticated technologies that can help us address many of the challenges we face today such as energy independence, our impact on the environment, and even medical ailments through supporting biological research.
In your administration, would you push hard for continuing and even strengthening the VSE by allocating more of each federal dollar (current funding for VSE is less than half a penny; Apollo peaked at about 4 cents) in all of your submitted budget recommendations?
Senator Obama has recently revised his space policy proposal, presumably in response to criticism over his original plan to delay the Constellation Program for at least five years. However, there are still several questions left open that concern me and other space exploration advocates.
What exactly does the Senator intend to do with the capability that a fully functional Orion and ISS will provide? If Senator Obama does believe in a different path than the current plan to build a lunar research outpost, what does he think NASA should be doing?
Senator Obama's campaign is founded on the message of combining a vision for the future and change for the better. Ultimately, I would like to know: What is Sen. Obama's vision for our pursuit of the highest frontier?
for all candidates re the US Space Program
what would be your highest priority for NASA:
completing and using the International space station
executing a human and robotic exploration program for our solar system
Would you support and promote a ten-year, U. S. government-mandated program, with hard technical goals (similar to Project Apollo and The Manhattan Project), and real tax incentives (for United States-based industry which meets the goals) which would:
1) ELIMINATE all need for foreign energy importation in ten years (by 2019)?
2) REQUIRE fusion power breakthrough for generating domestic electrical power in ten years (by 2019)?
3) REQUIRE development, maturing, and production operation of Gulf Stream current power generation (by 2019?)
4) REQUIRE solar power and wind farm development, maturing, and production operation in U. S. areas most appropriate for such renewable energy creation (by 2019)?
5) REQUIRE all land-based, personal automobile / light truck transportation on Federally-funded highways to use high-efficiency, hybrid power plants with ratings of 100+ miles to the gallon (by 2019)?
These issues represent fundamental concerns I have about strategy for the U.S. in the 21st century to remain a first-world nation.
In my opinon, if all goals listed were met, and our country was able to be energy independent, terrorism would cease (foreign oil imports fund terrorism), our economy would certainly grow (elimination of obsolete technologies would make us a net exporter of technology), and with the U.S. offering these technologies to other emerging countries and societies, would easily promote free-enterprise and democracy on a world-wide scale.
The party nominee for the general presidential election who announces that he will sponsor and enact this plan, once in the White House, will receive my vote.
With the economy the worst it's been in years, the housing market dead, an unwinable war going on, the threat of terrorism always present, bird flu on the way, and food and oil prices going through the roof, it seems that there is only one bright spot left... America's space program. The prospect of going back to the moon to utilize its vast resources and then spread our wings on to Mars is about all we have to look forward to. Let us not forget that our space program is responsible for almost every modern convenience and medical apparatus we have including computers, the Internet, cell phones, GPS receivers, and thousands more. Toying with or cutting back funding to NASA seems an exercise in futility anyway considering the minute percentage of the total Federal budget currently allocated. I would like to know where the candidates stand on space exploration, NASA and its funding and the new Constellation program.
How much money will you give to NASA each year to send men to Mars and the Moon?
What is your position on increasing funding for NASA in general, and particularly for the Fundamental Aeronautics and Aviation Safety, which in a time of increased concern about the safety of commercial flight has been cut to under $600 million this year.
To all Democratic candidates:
In 2006, the IRS's National Taxpayer Advocate's report highlighted the Alternative Minimum Tax as the single most serious problem with our tax code. A growing percentage of the middle class is paying higher taxes each year as a result of the AMT, and the AMT punishes taxpayers for having children or living in a high-tax state.
As President, what legislation, if any, would you propose to congress to address what many American’s feel is unfair and overly burdensome taxation as a result of the AMT?
NASA plans to retire the aging Space Shuttle in 2010, and it hopes to have its new Orion system to get astronauts to the Space Station ready by 2015 or soon after that. Do you support strengthening NASA's COTS program to encourage U.S companies to quickly develop commercial space transportation systems to help NASA supply and perhaps crew the Space Station while NASA's Orion is being developed? What other well-understood jobs would you like NASA to transfer to private industry so it can concentrate on cutting-edge research and exploration?
For the candidates:
China, India, Japan and Russia all seem to be preparing to expand human exploration into the Solar System. What will you do to see that the USA does not get left behind in that endeavor?
The Department of Defense used a public innovation prize competition called the DARPA Urban Challenge to develop computer-controlled cars. NASA uses a similar strategy to solve aviation and space problems with its Centennial Challenges program. The prize approach has also been used successfully in the private sphere with competitions like the one that resulted in the famous Spirit of St. Louis flight and Burt Rutan's X PRIZE suborbital rocket flight. Innovation prizes, while not a magic cure, have been shown to be productive and cost-effective compared to big government contracts and grants when applied and managed appropriately to solve certain types of difficult problems requiring innovation.
Do you support expanding the innovation prize model in government to solve difficult problems related to national security, energy, environment, space, health, science, and aviation problems?
There's 1.5 million people already diagnosed with Autism in America. I would like to know specifically what your plans are to put programs in the community and help them get housing, support services, and jobs, let alone fund research to find treatments and prevention?
Methanol and ethanol fuels show promise in delivering energy independence. However, car manufacturers have little incentive to deploy flex-fuel cars capable of running either gasoline or 85% ethanol because, even though the feature is fairly easy to implement, only a small proportion of gas stations have ethanol pumps, so consumers don't demand that feature. On the other hand, gas stations have little incentive to deploy ethanol pumps because only a few million cars, a small fraction of the U.S. fleet, support 85% ethanol. The situation is even worse for methanol.
With few ethanol and methanol gas pumps and cars, there is little incentive to perform research and development needed to produce methanol and ethanol at industrial scales. Currently only ethanol from corn is making even a moderate contribution.
How would you address this situation? Would you mandate that gas vehicles sold in the U.S. also support 85% ethanol, or both 85% ethanol and 85% methanol? Would you give gas stations more incentives to install ethanol and methanol pumps?
Would you support a significant gasoline tax or tariff increase? This would clearly increase energy independence, while reducing road congestion, pollution, road wear-and-tear, and support for oil-based dictatorships. However, taxes are a drag on the economy, and hurt the taxpayer. To offset the disadvantages of a gas tax or tariff increase, and to make the increase politically palatable in the first place, would you fund a tax cut with the new revenue? Alternately, would you reduce the deficit, or increase spending?
What, if anything, would you change about NASA?