Tonight is the long-awaited start of the presidential debates where we will finally see President Obama and Mitt Romney go head-to-head over the issues that Americans really care about. The economy will be front and center as a topic, but health care will be covered too. And while both will be vying for those undecided voters, we are vying for some straight answers to some very important health and women-related questions.
Tonight’s format will have PBS newsman Jim Lehrer as the moderator. After opening each segment with a question, Obama and Romney will have two minutes each to respond to that question. Then it’s up to Lehrer to moderate and keep the discussion going (and let’s hope we don’t see anything like Al Gore walking over to George Bush in the middle of his response–as entertaining as that was).
While we’re sure the questions are already prepared and both candidates are already well-scripted, here are 10 health and women-related questions that we’d like to see answered tonight:
1. What exactly do you plan to do with our healthcare system? This question is more so directed to Romney, who has been vague with his plans here. Yes, we know he doesn’t support Obamacare, so then tell us precisely what you do plan to do to bring health care costs down while ensuring more Americans have insurance and care (and don’t tell us you’ll just send them to the emergency room again, please).
2. What do plan to do about the gender wage gap? Given the fact that women still make just 77 cents for every dollar that a man makes, how is this being addressed? What mechanisms will be in place to diminish that gap?
3. How do you plan to better support working moms in this country? With the economy and unemployment the way it is right now, many moms don’t have a choice but to work outside the home. And yet, most employers continue to set the same working standards for these women without the option for flexible work schedules, telecommuting or job-sharing. How will you fix this so a woman doesn’t have to choose between work and her family quite so much?
4. How will you secure the longevity of social security and medicare? Under the current system, medicare and social security funds are projected to implode by 2024 and 2033, respectively, unless we make some serious changes to control costs. How will you address the needs of Baby Boomers and the next generation while ensuring these programs are on a more sustainable path?
5. How do you plan to limit the increase in environmental toxins? Environmental toxins have been blamed for everything from obesity to cancer to autism to inflammation and more. How are you going to control and limit toxic chemicals from our environment and our bodies?
6. Given that it’s breast cancer awareness month, what specifically will you do to help cure this disease? It’s projected that more than 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and nearly 40,000 will die from it. Those numbers are clearly unacceptable. What will you do about this?
7. How will you fight childhood obesity? You’re aware of the rising number of children who are overweight or obese today. This is the first generation that is not expected to live as long as their parents, and obesity is largely to blame. How will you fix this–and fast?
8. How specifically will women’s access to abortion change? There has been a lot of discussion about abortion rights in this country, including discussion about overturning Roe v. Wade. Women are understandably upset about their rights being taken away. Will they?
9. Tell us why you believe that birth control should or should not be covered under insurance? And what about women who don’t get it covered and can’t afford it? Will you mandate that all employers–including religious ones–must include this coverage?
10. Tell us about your own health. What specifically do you do every day and every week to stay in shape? And how do you feel about eating meat and dairy?
Tell us what other questions you’d like to ask these candidates tonight!