Issues Monday

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

We're kicking off a new series today, "Issues Monday." Between now and November, we will invite top advisers from both of the major party presidential campaigns to come on and take your questions. Looking over the blog posts from recent weeks, the biggest issue on people's minds right now is the economy. Gas prices hit a new high, stocks came awfully close to bear market territory last week, housing continues to slump... Voters want to know what the candidates can do to help them, specifically. We hear enough spin during the course of a campaign, today we hope to get real substance on both sides. And you can help out by telling us what economic issue is the most important to you? Give a little detail on why, and how that issues affects you.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Scott, could you post the call-in numbers here? Thanks.

Sent by Brian in Tallahassee | 2:10 PM | 6-30-2008

Hi Brian -- Republicans, call 800-344-3893. And Democrats, the line is 800-344-3864.

Sent by Barrie Hardymon | 2:15 PM | 6-30-2008

How will either candidate address the national debt. Obama uses any money for tax relief and programs. McCain now proposes using money for corporate tax relief. Neither addresses debt. Will either one act like an adult before the mentality that fostered the current mortgage crisis?
I am embarrassed for what is being left to our two children and six grandchildren.

Sent by Gordon Beyerlein | 2:16 PM | 6-30-2008

what about those of us that just can't be either democrat or repulican anymore...what number do we call?

Sent by Jodi | 2:25 PM | 6-30-2008

how is American economy tied to the war in Iraq

Sent by major | 2:27 PM | 6-30-2008

What Americans are not getting is that The American Dream is not sustainable. We should not miss our chance to change our way of life. I propose a World Dream in which the formost nation in the world acts unselfishly.

Sent by Steve Stenger | 2:28 PM | 6-30-2008

Health Care is the most important issue!
I am un-employed and have no health insurance and can't get even a basic policy to protect me from a catastrophic accident. Where is the solution from Obama? and McCain doesn't seem to see this as an important issue!

Sent by Liz | 2:29 PM | 6-30-2008

Not Your Grandpa's Mafia

Twenty-first century organized crime is
international, Ph.D. dominated, and computer powered; with ties to compromised politicians, police, and military personnel.
Does anyone know what are the Obama and McCain policies against organized crime?

Sent by Victor G. Jackson | 2:31 PM | 6-30-2008

I find it very disappointing that NPR is only restricting this debate to advisers of the republican and democratic presidential candidates. Why don't you give less recognized candidates a chance in this discussion? I would much rather hear a discussion that included Bob Barr and Ralph Nader's advisers (as well as the major campaigns). If not that, then at least some independent economists. It would increase the number of ideas out there, and increase the knowledge of the population, and quality of the discussion....

Yet, disgustingly, NPR believes it has the duty to limit the discussion to only the establishment candidates, most likely out of fear that the major parties will be upset at them for increasing political competition...

It is disgusting that NPR claims to be "public" yet, works against the public's interest in this way.

Sent by Joe M. | 2:32 PM | 6-30-2008

Republicans would like to tax consumption instead of income, Democrats would like protect American jobs. Could they agree to SMALL import taxes, but only tax products from countries with which we have large trade deficits? When the trade deficit goes away, so would the tariff. Also, the tarfiff should be small enough to raise revenue, but not stop the trade.

Sent by Bob in Oregon | 2:35 PM | 6-30-2008

Why do Republicans have a problem with the idea that the person who earns $500,000 per year paying the same percentage of thier income into taxes as I pay making $50,000 per year?

Sent by Jim Nmmo | 2:37 PM | 6-30-2008

As a long time volunteer in the public schools, I'd like to see the candidates address education. I'm old enough to remember knowledge for knowledge sake and young enough to have children who only know education for the sake of passing a test. I still keep in touch with one of my high school teachers--one of the best--who finally decided to quit ,simply because there was no use trying to engage students in dialogue, it was just a neverending battle to satisfy "no child left behind." No one is allowed to think, everyone must walk in lock step or lose funding. I hope that local school districts will choose to opt out of Federal coercion and education their students as they see fit.

Sent by mary | 2:50 PM | 6-30-2008

My husband and 300 others are coming to the ninth ward. To help! this is a financial situation For all. My husband will lose a weeks pay during this time. But by God hand he is holding us up by our wrist...See you in August. If you would like to help my husband feel free.

Sent by D.l. popelaumann | 2:58 PM | 6-30-2008

Capital gains and dividends are currently taxed at 15%, while wages are taxed at a much higher rate. The lower capital gains and dividend tax rate does nothing to encourage investments in the US. Investors invest wherever the return is higher and generally this means overseas in countries like, Brazil, India, China, Mexico etc where wage rates and other costs are lower. Even though many Americans own stocks via 401Ks and other retirement plans that are exempt or tax deffered, a much smaller percentage of Americans have individual stock accounts that benefit from the lower tax rate on dividends and capital gains. So the lower capital gains and dividend tax rates just means wealthy investors earn even more from their overseas investments and worsens the income gap between the wealthy and middle class and speeds the movement of jobs overseas.

Sent by Paul Morgan | 4:33 PM | 6-30-2008

My question for the candidates regards the most pressing economic concern in the world, which is the expanding energy crisis (which is driving the food crisis as well).

Candidates, what will you do as President to reduce American dependancy on oil in general and foreign-held oil in particular? What will you do to reign in carbon emissions and control corporate polluters? What will you do to try to bring China and India on board with this scheme (because without their cooperation, we won't be able to significantly slow global warming)? What will you do to encourage alternative energy sources and make the ones we've got cheaper and cleaner?

Basic resources lie at the core of any economy; if basic resource costs go up, everything is affected. A candidate who doesn't have intelligent answers to these questions doesn't deserve to sit behind the Resolute Desk.

As for how this issue affects me, it affects me because it affects everyone. I don't drive much, being lucky enough to live near my workplace, but my food costs are going up along with everyone else's due to increasing fuel prices. It affects me because global warming is destroying the environment of the planet I live on. It affects me because American dependance on foreign oil breeds violence and terrorism overseas, which results in increased threats to my life and safety.

What we need is leadership that will actually look ahead and solve problems before they become disasters, rather than taking the politically safe route, looking the other way, and leaving the problem to his or her successor.

We've already used up all of our rain checks. It's time to get a leader who will get the job done on energy.

Sent by Kasreyn | 5:29 PM | 6-30-2008

I spent thousands of hours providing sidewalk astronomy for the public and schools for free (It cost me $5,000 out of pocket) on a 10,000 mile solo road trip across America in 2000 after losing my job of 20 years; continuing this in the developing nation of Fiji for their public and schools while I was there working on my wife's immigration as she was deported as an illegal alien. This cost me another several thousand that was never reimbursed- No apparent grant available?

Now more recent, the home that I originally designed and built; thousands of dollars of landscaping, for my first family 20 years ago, I just lost in foreclosure in fraudulent mortgage loans foisted by bank upon me causing a loss of over $100,000 in equity. I have nothing to show for it except I am now technically homeless, sleeping on a friends couch. Why do the candidates keep saying they are going to help the upcoming foreclosures?

What about those of us who have been recently foreclosed and rendered unlawfully homeless by criminal banks, I am left to wander helplessly? In a minimum wage job I can only draw $20 per month in food stamps. Is this our new America? A 53 year old who is one year from early retirement, worked all his life, paid all those taxes, property taxes to be rewarded with homelessness?

Something is terribly wrong in America.


Sent by Mark Seibold | 7:08 PM | 6-30-2008

What stance does each canidate take toward the Fairtax Plan (HR 25)? This plan could be part of our solution to a balanced budget and a rejuvenated economy. I would stimlate business growth, stimulate comsumer spending, and also tax illegal immigrants. If visitors to this blog haven't read the Fair tax book yet. Go get it.

Sent by Andrew Stockwell | 10:29 PM | 6-30-2008

One idea to save gas, spare the air and make for more productive employees: "Third Place Thursdays."

Sent by drjohn | 11:29 PM | 6-30-2008

I think that the most commonly overlooked economic issue is the environment. One of the biggest reasons for the economic downturn is the price of energy. One of the biggest reasons for high energy prices is the uncertainty over the future of energy. Energy producers are afraid to invest in traditional energy because they are afraid of the changes in the energy market--in particular, they are uncertain about what government policies will do to the costs of various energy options (i.e. how will an energy tax or cap and trade system affect the costs of various fossil fuels). Thus, they are unwilling to make capital expenditures in traditional fossil fuel energy. On the other hand, renewable energy still can not compete with fossil fuels without subsidies. Thus, the government should grant those subsidies and step into the brave new world of renewables rather than lolly gagging.

Each candidate has endorsed a cap and trade system whereby companies are granted permits to pollute which can be traded on the open market, but because the price of carbon will be so crucial to the economy, a carbon tax will lead to greater economic stability. Naysayers argue that a carbon tax will hurt the economy, but a carbon tax could be revenue neutral. I.e. lower income taxes to counter the increased cost of energy. Thus rather than reducing income to avoid taxes, people could reduce pollution to avoid taxes. It's a win-win that makes economic sense.

Sent by John Kramer | 2:23 AM | 7-1-2008

Just heard the podcast of this show. I had to rewind to listen again to McCain's proposal: $5,000/year for healthcare costs? What planet is McCain on. We unfortunately are not married to healthy spouses as Cindy McCain, who can support us financially. I challenge Senator McCain to limit his healthcare costs to $5,000 for the next year and see how far that takes him.

I hope TON will also have a show on both Obama and McCain healthcare proposals.


Sent by George | 3:57 AM | 7-1-2008

I run a housing hotline in Idaho and hear from more callers every month facing foreclosure or eviction related to subprime loans and speculative investment. We've seen a 'perfect storm' since 2001 that has led directly to the current crisis:
1. Tech/stock collapse and corporate scandals drove speculative investors into real estate.
2. Record consumer debt caused homeowners to heed Alan Greenspan's constant advice to treat their homes like ATM machines.
3. Long period of low interest rates facilitated all of the above and helped promote rampant appraisal fraud leading to housing hyperinlation.

There are players who actively worked to articially inflate our housing market before strip mining that value for personal gain, leaving households, neighborhoods, communities and our economy in crisis.

That money did not evaporate into thin air; it still exists in offshore accounts. When and how are we as a country going to demand that these financial terrorists be held accountable?

Now that they have moved into the energy sector, we face global starvation and further economic ruin.

Please spend some time following the money and tracking down the perpetrators of this pillaging.

Thanks for everything you do, and for shining a bright light on the important issues we face.

Erik Kingston
Boise, ID

Sent by Erik Kingston | 1:41 PM | 7-3-2008

RE: Economic Stimulus package.
Federal Tax Department benefits
the most

You will only receive a stimulus
check IF you do not owe any back taxes.
So, IF you owe any back taxes you will not receive a check. It will be applied
to your back taxes. Since perhaps over 50% of US Citizens owe back taxes then therefore they will not receive a check.
Basically, this is a stimulus package
for the Federal Tax Department.
Your story goes on and on about how
this check will help the economy, pay
for things needed in the slow economy.
It's a hoax. Another of Mr. Bush's
genius ideas to "benefit" the citizens
of the US. It's a lie.

Sent by Frances Apgar | 4:51 PM | 7-7-2008