5 Tough Questions For The Presidential Candidates

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Romney Obama presidential debate 2012

Every four years at this time the major candidates for president face off to discuss, argue and debate the nation's problems.

The first of the 2012 presidential debates is Wednesday night, and President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, each want to be seen as best qualified to guide the economy.

But how can you sift through the numbers, zingers and spin to determine who would be the best at reducing the unemployment rate? What questions need to be answered? Here are five tough questions from a range of "experts" -- a long-term unemployed worker, a veteran and a Wharton professor. Take a look, and then share your toughest questions in the comments section.

In 2012, the big question before both candidates, President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, is in fact, largely the same: Can you get us back to work and get the economy going again?

So we've brought together questions from a range of Americans: a representatives of the millennial generation, veterans and the long-term unemployed to hear what they'd like asked of the two candidates tonight at the first presidential debate in Denver, Colo.

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5 Tough Questions For The Presidential Candidates

"Four years ago, we saw more young people vote than ever before. The big question this year now is what are you doing to get the young people out and vote for you?

"We are the gen who sits at the dinner table hearing about the negative economy. That takes a toll. When are things going to turn around? When will be encouraged. We want to hear specifics. It’s just like the transition from internship to job. How do we get from point A to point B?

"Finally, another big topic for us is student loans. The question for us is what are you going to do to make sure we aren’t in debt, so we don’t have to be scared to leave a job we don’t like?"

Berger is a millennial, the CEO of InternQueen.com and author of "All Work, No Pay."

"Unemployment has hit veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan particularly hard. In 2011, the unemployment rate for these new veterans averaged 12.1 percent. What will your administration do to lower the unemployment rate specifically amongst our country’s veterans?

"The New GI Bill is one of the best investments our country has made in this generation of service members. But, some for-profit schools are taking advantage of the program, using aggressive recruiting campaigns to target veterans’ benefits. How will you protect the New GI Bill to ensure the best educational outcome for our service members?

"The rates of suicide amongst our troops and veterans are alarmingly high. The vice chief of staff of the Army, Gen. Lloyd Austin, recently said, 'Suicide is the toughest enemy I have faced in my 37 years in the Army.' As commander-in-chief, what specific steps will you take to combat these high rates of suicide?

"Many have noted a widening gap between the 1 percent of Americans that have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and those who haven’t. Both of you have not served in the military. In your role as the commander in chief, what steps will you take to narrow this gap?" 

Paul Rieckhoff is the founder and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. See the IAVA voter guide here.

"Female veterans are just like all other women in the country -- we're still getting paid less for the same work men do. And that hasn't changed   over the last four years. What will you do to close the gap?

"And I can't let this opportunity pass without bringing up the vital issue of military sexual assault. What will you do to address this growing problem?"

Phoebe Gavin served with the U.S. Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"Americans need jobs!  23.5 million of us are un- or underemployed, many for a very long time. Lack of jobs is the root of so many other current problems: poverty, food stamp dependence, homelessness, foreclosures, loss of life savings. The economy is weak and getting weaker, with another recession predicted by the Congressional Budget Office for next year.  What specific steps would each of the candidates take to make it possible for millions of Americans to find good jobs again and recapture the American dream, which is rapidly slipping from our grasp?"

Fran Hopkins writes about her life as one of the long-term unemployed for AOL Jobs and the Verona-Cedar Grove, N.J., Patch.

"Both candidates have talked a lot about the need for more jobs, but I'd like to hear what are your proposals are for getting those jobs? Specifically, do they believe that getting the economy going will be enough to bring back jobs? If not, do you think the problems lie with employers or with employees? Do we need something more specific to help create jobs? And finally, do you believe we have a problem with low wage work and stagnant wage growth?"

Peter Cappelli is a management professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of "Why Good People Can't Get Jobs."

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