have commented on hundreds of topics and and issues. To read some selected
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Foreign Policy/National Security
Potter of Harmony, PA:
One of the key issues continues to be universal health care coverage. Although Hillary Clinton's plan in the early '90s may have been highhanded in its process and cumbersome in its product, it was moving in the right direction. Unfortunately Congressional Democrats were too intent on demonstrating their independence from an untried administration, and Republicans were too generally destructive to take proper care of their constituents' needs. The years subsequent to that debacle have shown that Harry and Louise were manifestly wrong in many (perhaps most) of their criticisms of the Clinton plan. Now we are struggling with a chaotic health care "system" that still leaves altogether too many people without care.
The Clinton years have brought a significant rebalancing of resource allocation away from militaristic emphases towards domestic and humane needs. As a world power we can continue to serve the mediative and peacekeeping role that we appear to be doing quite effectively, while at the same time taking care of U.S. citizens' basic needs. Primary among these is adequate health care.
Cunniff of Evanston, IL:
Make prescription drugs affordable for all Americans. The costs are skyrocketing. Many people do not have health insurance at all, and many more have policies that do not cover prescription drugs.
Each candidate should present a detailed plan that describes how the candidate would get the insurance companies, doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies to work together to develop a solution.
Anderson of Edina, MN:
I have watched may of your segments as to what to ask the candidates.I believe that most boil down to the area of education. The debate shouldn't start with funding but with the system. Our system of education is based on a system of grade levels and not on subject matter comprehension. If the first few years of education were based on levels of ability so that bright children where challanged and those who needed help could get it there would be a stronger foundation to build on in latter years. It's the system not funding that is the problem.
C. Dunk of Redding, CA:
1. Phase out all subsidies to tobacco farmers and industry over 5-10 years.Subsidize new farm products like hemp for these farmers.
2.Stop government gambling to collect taxes. Stop all gov't lotteries. Gambling will ruin our society!
Doering of Rochester, NY:
Campaign issue: What can we do to ensure that the republic will survive prosperity? No previous civilization has ever solved that problem, and our time is short.
Cree of Lake Junaluska, NC:
Linda is right - the issue is cultural and government can't solve it. For example, we have dumped money into schools and they are horror houses. Congressmen should be required to hire an average high school grad as a lesson in school failure. In 40 years we have not learned that money and government solve nothing.
French of Blacklick, Oh.:
1. The issue of prison inmates. Statistics show we have extreme numbers in jail yet readjustment programs are cut out. What will happen when they are released? Recidivism is already high. 2. Answers to the future as discussed on 6/24 are all outlined in Thorow's book "Building Wealth". 3. There is no way to bring out children back in line. Culture has given them freedom to be independent without responsibility. 4.No one is bringing up the major issue - global capitalism and its effect on our society plus the rapid changes high tech is creating for the new world. Most Americans don't know any of this (and they think I'm crazy.)
Lapides of Baltimore, Md.:
Dr. Goodwin came closest to focusing on the issue that concerns me most: the matter of economic justice. To talk of economic justice only in terms of governmental responsibility without also focusing on corporate responsibility, as Dr. Goodwin suggests we should, is like trying to walk on one leg. Lets give more attention to corporations which exist only as defined by the laws of the voters and their electorate.
Chelchowski of Naples, Fl.:
When someone suggests that inner city people should take more responsibility and depend less on government......... I would like to have them tell exactly how this to be accomplished. How do you get millions of people to change? This can't be done by talking on a TV program. Please let's have a specific suggestion about how to accomplish what they say is needed.
Walker of Mineola, Tx:
The next election should include something the present government has failed to provide: Socialized Medicine. A system like Great Britain's would be wonderful. And we could say goodbye to the insurance companies, too! What a wonderful day that would be.
Cypser of Katonah, NY:
The war on drugs is an utter failure. After spending 300 billion in that war, drugs are as plentiful, available, and as cheap as ever. The drug laws have filled our prisons with hundreds of thousands of addicts who sold small amounts to feed their habit. Meanwhile only 20% of the addicts who need treatment are getting any at all, and much of that is inadequate.
We need to change our approach to the drug problem. Quality Drug treatment must be available to all who need it. Substance abuse must be treated primarily as a health and education issue. Alternatives to incarceration and restorative justice must be the norm. Judicial discretion must be returned to judges, repealing mandatory minimum drug laws.
Foss of San Francisco, Ca.:
The rapid demographic changes in the population and what this means for the future is an issue that must be addressed by visionary political leadership. Can a pluralistic society in which former majorities are becoming minorities achieve a sense of unity and common purpose? Can new citizens from societies in which there is no history of democratic freedoms identify with and preserve the ideals on which this nation was founded? Without a vision that is capable of understanding and coping with these momentous changes, the the future of America could well be chaotic and anarchic (or totalitarian). For me, this issue subsumes all others: economic, educational,juridical military, familial.
Plunkett of Santa Cruz, Ca.:
Social engineering by the government is a mistake. The government has made too many mistakes in the past for me to trust them presently. Democrats think the government control all aspects of social changes. You cannot legislate what is in the heart of individuals. I understand that Mr. Gore is a great believer of big government. Someone needs to pin him down on this matter. What does he intend to do in this arena if elected.
Fadness of San Jose, Ca.:
A major emphasis needs to be placed on domestic infrastructure. We must restore crumbling facilities and begin building new ones that will accommodate continuing economic development and improved quality of life in our urban areas. Infrastructure development (constructing streets, roads, parks, libraries, etc.)could be used as a tool to put our people to work in relatively high-paying, entry-level jobs that get people off welfare, build confidence and self-esteem, and produce value to taxpayers.
National government must restore investment in infrastructure. We people are caught in traffic congestion every working day, paying taxes, and finding that there is no relief in sight because government is off on a tangent dealing with foreign policy, etc. We must attend to the needs of our own country.
Banks of Portland, Or.:
A fair flat tax on everyone, with no laws to change it. Unless the majority of American voters approve a referendum to change the tax law by their vote, in an national election. What a novel idea! A real democracy with no laws for sale by a bought and paid for government!
Manheim of Fairfax, Va.:
It is ironic that that Dan Quayle, with his many weaknesses, is the only candidate to candidly critique one of our most serious national problems: the role of lawyers and the law in the U.S. Consider:
1. Threat of open-ended legal suit for financial gain distorts the legal system, inflates costs, restricts personal freedoms, and promotes suspicion and hostility throughout the US
2. The decline in the role of ethical principle in the legal profession has a profound impact on every aspect of American life. Examples: corporate activities and the health professions, decisionmaking in Congress, including declining bipartisanship, the declining status and public image of politicians (who are mostly lawyers); capricious decisions by judges; escalation of arbitrary conflict and hostility in divorce cases; the corrosive effect on the fabric of society of ideologically-driven, brilliant lawyers mobilized by the ACLU and other "civil rights" groups. These groups exercise a national influence far out of proportion to reason or their numbers through their virtuistic [sic] manipulation of the legal system against local communities.
3. We can be sure that the main candidates will skirt the legal system issue. They have little to gain and much to lose by raising the issue. Next to education the role of law and lawyers may be the most critical influence on future civil life and policy in the US Public Radio and Television can play an essential role in making sure (repeatedly, not just once), that candidates cannot duck this issue in public debates. (I hope you don't have too many lawyers advising you on your issue choices).
P. McKenna of Montpelier, Vt.:
Mass immigration. We are accepting 1.5 million immigrants a year. The Census Bureau predicts our population will soar from the present 275 million to 450 million by 2050, well within the lifetime of our children and grandchildren. Worse yet, our population growth would not stop in 2050 but would continue to increase from that higher base. We could have a population of a billion sometime in the next century.
We must act now to reduce immigration from all sources to no greater than 200,000 a year, a number that should produce no net growth from immigration.
Edzant of San Diego, Ca.:
I believe one of the issues for election 2000 should be how to prevent youth violence;particularly in our schools. I feel that in addition to gun control,curbing exposure to violence on T.V.,movies, video games, Internet,etc., that we should be looking at violence prevention in schools.(especially grades K-12) By having trained counselors available to bring individuals and/or groups together to problem-solve,and to teach communication and parenting skills, students will have an outlet and a means to solve their conflicts and work through their differences before they lead to rage and violence. Please feel free to contact me for further details.
Caracoza of Carson, Ca.:
Dear Sir, The one thing that they will not talk about. "Bringing The Bible Back Into Our Schools". This issue is a hot issue but yet this is one issue that should not be a hot issue. The "Bible in America" must be in our schools to teach our young kid to be a responsible person.
Manley of Portland, Or.:
I am very concerned about the real income of the average American. Everyone is saying the economy is doing so well, but I am so sure. For the average working person person has gained that much in income. Most economic gain has gone to a small percent of the people, the effect for the majority is the lack of a worsening condition. I would like to see work on the betterment of the economic conditions across the board rather than simply improving the circumstances of those who are already above the economic norm.
Carbaugh of Richmond, Ca.:
Economic justice. The plight of the millions of working poor-(Myself included!) I am a teacher trying to support a family of 5 on $27,600.00 per year.
A. Ferris of New Era, Mi.:
Since the gov't seems to have a surplus, the issue should be to review the 1920's attitude toward taxation policy which seems to have been a gauntlet that was to mandate the development of a voluntary or temporary latitude toward taxes. Here is my plan that could take the thorn out of the side of the militia groups, and cure the federally unfunded mandates. It could cure the school millages that want increases so that schools could be more independent.
The idea is based on a 7 year cycle that allows one year out of the seven to be released from Fed. taxes allowing individual, states, counties, etc. to develop the same format. It starts with the PAC's and special interest groups that have at least 40 - 70% production income-based in the USA would be able to choose what year would be tax-exempt of the 7-year cycle. If they qualify, their system forfeits running up to the hill to play money-politics. Then the Senate and House would decide from the companies w/o PACs down to the individual incomes what year of the 7-year cycle would be exempt from Fed. taxes.The IRS income brackets would have to be changed to not penalize Fed. tax break...
Lass of Nashville, TN.:
As a psychologist I hope to hear your program address issues of our discrepancy between our technological advances and our emotional state; not only does this come into play re ethical issues for medicine and biotechnology but also has implications, and I see this in my practice and as a community organizer, in helping people sort out priorities and limited time. Perhaps you could address quality of life issues that go beyond an 11,000 Dow and relative peace.
Gore's attention to suburban sprawl isn't a fluff issue, and I think it speaks to adolescent ennui that at its extreme results in suicide or shootings. How do candidates look beyond peace and prosperity and address quality of life that includes our failing infrastructure and other mundane yet ultimately meaningful challenges? Sorry about the pontificating, but I am a PhD, after all.
Gilleland of Raleigh, NC:
Encryption Controls: With the burgeoning global economy and international trade and banking on the rise, what are the candidates positions on encryption export controls?
Lynch of Helena, Mt.:
As one little voice I would like to say: "Deliver us from the power and influence of money to control the dialog." The "average" citizen cannot be heard. Free speech has been auctioned off to the highest, loudest bidder. Our only hope are programs such as the News Hour. Just like you are examining the media with Terry Smith, please do a regular on the disappearance of free speech. I know of no other way raise the conscienceness for campaign finance reform. The politicians (except John McCain)have no incentive to do anything about it. The First amendment has lost its meaning if the speech can not be heard.
Ackerson of Birmingham, Al.:
I am very concerned about the crisis in our schools. Children do not feel safe, parents are choosing "home schooling" over public education and all I hear from the federal government is emphasizing performance on standardized tests. There is also a crisis in healthcare that disproportionately affects children. Healthcare benefits are being curtailed and we are rationing resources to our most valuable commodity, our future. I want to know what the candidate's proposed programs are for our children's education and health care needs.
J. Carroll of Santa Rosa, Ca.:
Responsibility seems to be a major theme in this lead off discussion. The question is, who is acting responsibly? For instance, insofar as economic justice is concerned, it is commonly estimated that 1% of the US population owns and controls about 40% of the wealth in our nation. That 10% of the population owns and controls close to 90% of the wealth. That means 90% of our population has only 10% of the wealth. Although the economy is strong and unemployment is low, lower and middle income Americans are barely getting by. What will these candidates do, specifically and concretely, to rectify this situation?
Ellington of Atlanta, Ga.:
I would like to know how the candidates feel about health care in general, but what they plan to do about rebuilding the safety net for people with mental illnesses in particular.
Zimmerman of Fair Lawn, NJ:
How to provide prescription drug coverage under Medicare?
Why should there be means testing for Medicare premiums? High income
taxpayers when working, already pay a greater
McCafferty of Columbus, Oh.:
IMMIGRATION REFORM! The federal gov't must stop the invasion of third worlders into the US and STOP giving aliens SSI, Medicare, housing, food stamps and paying their education costs and providing 1/2 of all SBA set-aside loans for immigrants. This nation must address the hostile attitude of aliens towards American Culture, Language and Religion. Protect our borders and throw out those who commit felonies and soak the U S Taxpayer! Educating, etc alien children must end now.
McConnell of Hilton Head Island, SC:
We are one of only two developed countries in the world (the other being south Africa) which does not provide at least a basic level of health care to its citizens. there are over 43 million who have been left out of the system - and these are good economic times.
I shudder to think of what it will be in an economic downturn. In our town,Hilton head,SC, we solved the problem by using the retired medical personnel.
We can now say that every person who lives or works in our town has access to health care. In addition we have started similar clinics in 12 states and another 24 are in various stages of development. There are sufficient retired medical personnel to provide heath care to many, if not most, of the 43 million who have been left out of the system. It might make for an interesting interview and discussion.