Nine questions that President Obama can’t answer

Matt Mackowiak | Founder, Potomac Strategy Group

At 2 p.m. Eastern Time this afternoon, President Obama will participate in a Twitter town hall meeting, with questions being taken at the hashtag #AskObama.

On June 29, President Obama held a press conference — his first in 15 weeks — which resulted in only 10 questions being asked in more than an hour. While the White House press corps covered a range of subjects, from the debt crisis, to the economy to Libya, for over two years the press corps has failed to hold President Obama accountable for the vast gulf between what he says and what he actually does.

Here are some fair, honest and direct questions that Americans would like to see President Obama answer:

1. Mr. President, many believe our country faces a debt crisis unless we act — and soon. Most public polling shows that a majority of the public opposes raising the debt ceiling unless permanent reforms are passed. The International Monetary Fund and Standard and Poor’s have recently expressed serious concerns about the credit worthiness of America. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently analyzed our budget situation and concluded that it is worsening more rapidly than previously suspected. The CBO now predicts that by 2030 our debt will be 150 percent of GDP and by 2050 it will be 344 percent of GDP. Given that the two largest federal deficits in American history have occurred on your watch and in the two and a half years that you have been president the federal debt has increased from $9 trillion to over $14 trillion, do you believe that America is facing a debt crisis that threatens the very economic future of America?

2. Mr. President, in 2009 you pledged to cut the deficit in half in your first term. Federal spending, as a percentage of GDP, has increased by 25 percent since you took over, your 2012 budget failed in the U.S. Senate by a vote of 97-0 and the 2012 deficit is estimated to be $1.4 trillion. Do you admit that you will break your pledge to cut the deficit in half in four years? What does that say about your record on fiscal responsibility?

3. Mr. President, at a time when national unemployment is 9.1 percent, the federal deficit is a near-record $1.4 trillion, gas prices remain well over $3 per gallon and the U.S. is fighting wars in three countries, how can you defend the enormous personal time commitment you have made to meet this quarter’s $60 million campaign fundraising goal, a full 17 months before the 2012 election?

4. Mr. President, earlier this year you boasted that under your administration American energy production has reached an all-time high. Given that federal policies that impact exploration take years to impact actual production, do you admit that your policies have had very little impact on current levels of exploration? Can you explain to the American people how raising taxes on oil companies will reduce gas prices? When do you believe America will be energy independent and why is achieving energy independence not your top economic priority, given the enormous job creation that would result?

5. Mr. President, your political party has attacked Republicans for the plan they have proposed for the future of Medicare. But the Congressional Budget Office says that the Medicare Health Insurance Trust Fund will be bankrupt in 2020, causing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to no longer have legal authority to pay health plans and providers. You have often talked about leadership and not “kicking the can down the road.” Will you be introducing your own plan to reform Medicare before the 2012 election? If not, why?

6. Mr. President, you campaigned on creating the most transparent administration in history. Your administration recently received an award for transparency efforts from five organizations, which you accepted in a closed-press, undisclosed ceremony at the White House. But in the following areas, your administration’s record on transparency is at best questionable:

a. Politico reports that while you are releasing White House visitor logs, your administration often holds meetings with lobbyists off site to prevent the meetings from being kept in official records. Will you release records of administration officials meetings with lobbyists, no matter where they are held?

b. You vowed to end backroom deals and put legislative negotiations on C-SPAN, but neither has happened. The health care reform discussions were held in secret without the participation of Republicans. Negotiations regarding the threatened government shutdown earlier this year and the August 2 debt ceiling deadline were held behind closed doors. Why did you run pledging openness only to govern in private?

7. Mr. President, how does our current military action in Libya not require a declaration of war and how is it not subject to the Congressional War Powers Act?

8. Mr. President, you signed into law what you have called “historic” health care reform legislation, which is currently being implemented by your administration. To date, the General Accounting Office has found that your administration has granted over 95 percent of more than 1,400 waiver requests, but your administration has refused to provide information about why some waivers were rejected. Can you explain why waivers to the law are necessary, if, as you contend, passage of the law was good for both employers and employees? And if waivers are necessary in some cases, why are you ending the application period for waivers on September 22, 2011?

9. Mr. President, during the 2008 campaign you criticized your opponent, former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), regarding campaign spending from outside groups. In the 2010 election cycle, you said that political ads paid for by undisclosed donors are “a threat to our democracy.” In June, one of your top 2008 campaign aides and your former White House deputy press secretary, Bill Burton, launched two outside groups, Priorities USA, a nonprofit that does not disclose its donors, and Priorities Action USA, a so-called “super PAC” that can receive unlimited funds from corporate and union sources. Are these two groups a “threat to our democracy,” as you said, or do you support campaign ads paid for by undisclosed donors when they benefit your reelection?

Matt Mackowiak is a Washington- and Austin-based Republican consultant and President of Potomac Strategy Group, LLC. He has been an adviser to two U.S. senators and one governor, and has worked on two winning campaigns. He can be reached at matt@potomacstrategygroup.com.

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