An Entrepreneur’s Questions for Tonight’s Presidential Debate


What would you ask the Presidential candidates?

Since the first presidential debate is tonight I thought I would help you get ready for the debate by giving you six questions I would ask if they had me moderate the debate. I know that won’t happen because I have strongly held opinions and I might be likely to share some of them in the way I ask my questions. It’s funny to me that none of the debate moderators  represent anyone remotely like me as a host or remotely like you as a viewer.

This is a critical election and, well, my point of view is that since we’ll get what we vote for this year, what we must know is who we are voting for.  As a person who owns his own business, is an entrepreneur, and has been a successful executive in a number of high growth businesses, I might have different questions than other people.  But I don’t think so. I got together with my kitchen cabinet to come up with questions that we would all like to know the answers to. I should warn you many of my friends own businesses, medical practices and farms here in the Midwest. This was a tough crowd who has struggled over the past several years of this challenging economy. They had many great questions they wanted to ask the person who will be in the White House for the next four years. It’s time to ask some tough questions of our candidates. So here we go.

  1. Since we know that you plan to tax the people who make more than $250,000.00 per year are you going to take into account where I live? Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year goes a lot farther here in the Midwest than it does on the east and west coast.  Since you say you’re trying to be fair, are you going take into account cost of living when you levy the taxes? Are you going to ask the 30% of the people who don’t pay taxes that could to begin paying taxes? Over 75% of Americans when asked believed almost everyone should pay some taxes. When will the people who pay the most taxes be appreciated in our culture again? It seems to me, you’ve made small business owners villains for trying to achieve great things. Many small business people will pay significantly higher taxes if you have your way. Tell me when in history has government created value and jobs in the American economy? 
  2. What did we get for our initial investment of close to 1 trillion dollars invested to jump start our economy? Most of the small business people I talk with have not seen the money or the loans that we thought we would get when your team got the bill passed through Congress. How are you going to get more people to invest in the America? How will you get businesses to invest here again in things that match their core competencies and release America’s entrepreneurs?  Since when did capitalism become a four letter word in the halls of Congress and the White House? Talking about Congress, how do you plan to work with them in the next four years? I’m not sure if I can give you an incomplete on this part of your presidency, I cannot remember a President in our history that chose to not work with those on both sides of the aisle.
  3. Are you going to give our children a chance at the American dream? With a growth rate less than 2% a year, it will take at least 10 years to get the unemployment rates back under control. Since when is an 8% rate acceptable in America and both of you know the number is significantly higher if you count people who have just given up looking for professional employment?  This unemployment rate impacts almost every American family. We don’t want your sympathy, we want the results that you are both promising. Either candidate inherits a bad economy from the person who has the job now.  We have accrued significant debt for all our children.  How are you going to help them excel at what they do so they can have a better future than we did?
  4. Since health care costs are rising for my employees and decreasing my earnings, how can we create a health care system that will help me complete with my global competitors for the best talent? The health tax is going to cost billions of dollars to implement, and even after it goes into effect, we won’t know how it works for years to come. If you were going to tax job creators so much, don’t you think you should have provided more information and gained support to push the plan through? The health care system was going to be challenged no matter how it’s structured as it deals with unprecedented numbers of baby boomers retiring and moving into the system. Did you ever consider consulting with the best and brightest in creating a health system that takes this into account?  I don’t mean Congress, I mean people who are on the front lines of healthcare. Doctors, nurses, patients, and administrators, these people could have helped create a stronger bill.  Did you ever consider asking Governor Romney what he learned from his plan in Massachusetts? You want to give him credit for inspiring the plan then why not ask what he would do differently if he was going to roll it out nationally. Did you ever confer with any other of the major health systems to uncover what they’ve learned over the past 10 years? Nope, you ran with a bill that even Nancy Pelosi said would take years to unravel.
  5. I know leading from the back was a stated strategy for dealing with international affairs and situations. After the death of an American Ambassador and three other brave men overseas, do you still believe that’s a policy that keeps America a leader in the world? You made jokes about Russia being a threat to America, did you fail to understand American history and the role Russia has played in politics through the world for over the last 50 years. What allies would you count on to help Israel if the need arises? How many back channel conversations have you been involved in that will help the state of Israel survive?  What role does the Arab Spring have on American diplomacy?
  6. What direction are you planning to take the country over the next four years?  Either of you will be taking over a tough economy and many challenges around the globe. Are you going to take responsibility for it or who will you blame? How do you plan to reignite the American economy and how are you going to make the tough choices that are required of a leader? Both of you men have superior educations to many Americans, how do you make the American education system the envy of the world? If throwing more money at the problem solved it, we would have 100% graduation rates and students who do world class work across the board. It’s not just about money.  It’s bringing in innovation in to change the system.  Many of our future employees come to us without the required learning skills to build a world class organization. How are you going to help every child get a better education? We can pay our employees better if we don’t have to invest in the training they should have received in schools. How might we partner with schools to provide better education to our future employees?

I know this is actually more than six questions, but I think everyone I know would be interested in these answers, wouldn’t you? If you would like to write a guest blog before the next debate drop me a note and we can discuss it. I’d love to have a blog for each of the debates.

About the Author

Tripp Braden partners with financial and advisory services clients to create an anticipatory strategy and mindset. By leveraging people and technology he breaks down barriers to combine planning and innovation in a way that increases profits and accelerates sales results.
He’s a growth strategist and internationally recognized Sage Global Business Expert and IBM Futurist who turns strategy into implementable business development activities for increasing market share, revenue, and profits. He has proven success seeing the big picture and creating new market opportunities.
Tripp can be contacted at tbraden@marketleadership.net or send him an invite on LinkedIn. You can find Tripp’s other blog at Empowering Serving Advisors.

Tripp Braden – who has written posts on Market Leadership Journal.


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