WASHINGTON -- The focus of the first debate will be the economy, understandably enough. But the next president will, or should, have much more on his domestic plate. Herewith, some proposed questions:
-- President Obama, climate change has been on the back burner during your presidency. In your acceptance speech, you spoke of climate change as "a threat to our children's future" and cited "my plan" to deal with it. And that would be ... ?
-- Governor Romney, in your acceptance speech you seemed to mock the notion of climate change. You have called for additional study because of a "lack of scientific consensus." What is your basis for saying so, and what would it take to get you to act?
-- Governor Romney, you have said that businesses need regulatory certainty. Auto companies and workers support the Obama administration's new fuel economy standards, which will also save drivers money and reduce carbon pollution. Why do you oppose what your campaign called these "extreme standards"?
-- President Obama, your own jobs council has warned against government obstacles that "threaten the development of some energy projects, negatively impact jobs and weaken our energy infrastructure." How does this square with your rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline?
-- Governor Romney, the Republican platform calls for denying federal aid to state colleges and universities that provide in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. Is that your position?
-- President Obama, your administration has deported more people than any other. Will this continue or accelerate in a second term? How do you plan to convince Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform?
-- Governor Romney, you have criticized the federal government's direct involvement in student loans, yet the program is estimated to save the government more than $60 billion over the next decade. Why end it?
-- President Obama, you have consistently opposed a program that provides vouchers for about 1,600 children in the District of Columbia to attend private school. Why deny children in failing schools the opportunities your daughters have?
-- Governor Romney, ensuring that children are school-ready is an important element of later success. Your education plan is silent on early childhood education. You said recently that having one parent who "can be at home in those early years of education can be extraordinarily important." Since this is not feasible for many families, what do you propose?
Copyright 2012 Washington Post Writers Group