I watched the Vice Presidential Debate last night and was very surprised by the exchange. Elaine Quijano came up with some thoughtful questions. Unfortunately Governor Mike Pence and Senator Tim Kaine answered very few of them.
Senator Kaine made Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump seem downright thoughtful. Similar to my second grader matching questions in one column to answers in another, he seemed to have a canned answer that sometimes fit vaguely, but more often did not. Governor Pence on the other hand spent more time responding to Senator Kaine's remarks than the moderators. Both of them seemed more like a couple at marriage counselors office than Vice Presidential candidates.
Given the candidates running, it is certainly easy fodder to look at Mr. Trump whose entire life is in the public eye, but not in public service, and fine snippets that are very unflattering. The Clinton campaign has to attack here as Mr. Trump has no political record to defend.
Similarly, with Secretary Clinton spending her entire life in public services, it is easy fodder to look at voting records and everything that has happened in the country over the last twenty four plus years and pin it on Secretary Clinton. The Trump campaign does not need to go about cherry picking words out of context and can stay slightly above the mud.
There is not much to report on from the debate, besides Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-Un, Moammar Gadhafi, Saddam Hussein, nuclear weapons in Saudi Arabia, Japan, Korea, tax returns, private e-mail server, "absolutely false."
However, I will weigh in on the questions asked.
I'd like to start with the topic of presidential leadership. Twenty-eight years ago tomorrow night, Lloyd Bentsen said the vice presidential debate was not about the qualifications for the vice presidency, but about how if tragedy should occur, the vice president has to step in without any margin for error, without time for preparation, to take over the responsibility for the biggest job in the world.
What about your qualities, your skills, and your temperament equip you to step into that role at a moment's notice? Senator Kaine?
TeamGupta: One of them should have led with experienced in Washington, thoughtful, builds consensus, knowledgeable on foreign affairs, and patience.
Senator Kaine, on the campaign trail, you praised Secretary Clinton's character, including her commitment to public service, yet 60 percent of voters don't think she's trustworthy. Why do so many people distrust her? Is it because they have questions about her e-mails and the Clinton Foundation?
Governor Pence, let me ask you, you have said Donald Trump is, quote, "thoughtful, compassionate, and steady." Yet 67 percent of voters feel he is a risky choice, and 65 percent feel he does not have the right kind of temperament to be president. Why do so many Americans think Mr. Trump is simply too erratic?
TeamGupta: I wouldn't have touched this either. With 60% and 65%, opposed to a candidate, the American populace will not embrace either candidate and will instead revamp the makeup of Congress, likely with more independents, Tea Party candidates, and maybe even a Libertarian or Green Party candidate.
According to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, neither of your economic plans will reduce the growing $19 trillion gross national debt. In fact, your plans would add even more to it.
Both of you were governors who balanced state budgets. Are you concerned that adding more to the debt could be disastrous for the country. Governor Pence?
TeamGupta: It would only be disastrous for the country if the US credit rating slipped. With money cheap, this is a non-issue right now. Granted the debt to GDP is poor, but given the entitlements, this cannot be fixed. The only fix is high/hyper inflation which will likely return in the next 10-20 years.
On that point, Governor Pence, recently the New York Times released part of Mr. Trump's 1995 tax return and reported that he could have avoided paying federal income taxes for years. Yesterday, Mr. Trump said he brilliantly used the laws to pay as little tax as legally possible. Does that seem fair to you?
TeamGupta: Yes it seems fair to me. I am a strong proponent of a Value Added Tax, National Sales Tax, and/or flat taxes without loopholes, deductions and the like. Until the laws are changed, special interests will continue to create loopholes and asset bubbles. Those fortunate enough to have a team of tax attorneys will pay lower taxes.
Senator Kaine, on the issue of Social Security, in 18 years, when the Social Security Trust Funds run out of money, you'll be 76. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates your benefits could be cut by as much as $7,500 per year. What would your administration do to prevent this cut?
TeamGupta: Nobody is cutting anything. Our national debt will merely grow to cover the cost of entitlements and when inflation hits, real purchasing power will decline, but hopefully it will be slow enough that individuals fortunate enough to have non-Social Security savings will be OK.
All right. Let me move on now to the issue of law enforcement and race relations. Law enforcement and race relations. After the Dallas police shooting, Police Chief David Brown said, quote, "We're asking cops to do too much in this country. Every societal failure we put it off on the cops to solve. Not enough mental health funding, not enough drug addiction funding, schools fail, let's give it to the cops."
Do we ask too much of police officers in this country? And how would you specifically address the chief's concerns? Senator Kaine?
TeamGupta: It is not a question of funding for mental health, drug addiction or schools, it is a question of deploying those funds effectively. I think mental health and drug addiction should be handled planned parenthood style where somebody can drop in or go to a clinic rather than needing to be absorbed into they system. If schools were educating kids to get middle income jobs rather than college prep curriculum then schools would not be failing. Having the law enforcement solving issues is the last ditch resort, but the most visible resort. Given the breadth of socioeconomic status, nation of origin, religion, political affiliation, race, etc, conflict is inevitable. I carefully follow all the criminal laws, speed limits, etc. I don't wear a dark hoody at night, because any encounter with an armed individual (law enforcement or otherwise) places my life at risk.
All right. I want to turn to our next segment now, immigration. Your running mates have both said that undocumented immigrants who have committed violent crimes should be deported. What would you tell the millions of undocumented immigrants who have not committed violent crimes? Governor Pence?
TeamGupta: I would tell any individuals within the US borders not to worry. We have so many problems, that funding the immigration and naturalization office is way down on the list of concerns. As unemployment and crime go up, this may become an issue, so get naturalized while you can.
Gentleman, I'd like to shift now to the threat of terrorism. Do you think the world today is a safer or more dangerous place than it was eight years ago? Has the terrorist threat increased or decreased? Senator Kaine?
TeamGupta: I think the world is safer than it was 8 years ago as the awareness of the terrorist threat has gone up. We have gone from not in my back yard to yes, that could happen when I am visiting an elementary school or going to the movies. I think the military calls it situational awareness. People are living in fear and make a point of sitting closer to exits and with their backs against walls and often armed, much like the wild, wild west. I think more people will start to study martial arts and weapons self defense.
Governor Pence, Mr. Trump has proposed extreme vetting of immigrants from parts of the world that export terrorism. But that does not address many of the recent terrorist attacks in the United States, such as the Orlando nightclub massacre and the recent bombings in New York and New Jersey. Those were homegrown, committed by U.S. citizens and legal residents. What specific tools would you use to prevent those kinds of attacks?
TeamGupta: There are no specific tools to address those terrorist attacks. Per the motto of the US Special Forces, "The right man in the right place is a devastating weapon." Right now more of those devastating weapons are terrorists rather than those set to prevent terror. We have to accept those attacks as the new normal.
I want to turn now to Syria. Two hundred fifty thousand people, 100,000 of them children, are under siege in Aleppo, Syria. Bunker buster bombs, cluster munitions, and incendiary weapons are being dropped on them by Russian and Syrian militaries. Does the U.S. have a responsibility to protect civilians and prevent mass casualties on this scale, Governor Pence?
TeamGupta: The US would have a responsibility if it were a super power. Now that responsibility falls on China. The US protecting civilians in Aleppo, is a similar situation to the World War II or Darfur, the American populace has no appetite to deploy resources and will maintain the isolationist tract until it becomes untenable.
Gentlemen, Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, annexed Crimea, and has provided crucial military support to the Assad regime. What steps, if any, would your administration take to counter these actions? Senator Kaine?
TeamGupta: There are no actions we can take against Russia's actions without risking a global conflict. We could take the historical British approach of colonizing all of these places, placing them under our protectorate and take all of the natural resources, or we can sit back and wait until the situation is untenable.
All right, I'd like to ask now about North Korea, Iran and the threat of nuclear weapons. North Korea recently conducted its fifth and most powerful nuclear test. What specific steps would you take to prevent North Korea from developing a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching the United States? Governor Pence?
Senator Kaine, if you had intelligence that North Korea was about to launch a missile, a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching the United States, would you take preemptive action?
TeamGupta: The US has maintained its first strike strategy and that is unlikely to change. We can't prevent the development of nuclear weapons or prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the wrong hands.
All right. I'd like to turn to our next segment now. And in this, I'd like to focus on social issues. You have both been open about the role that faith has played in your lives. Can you discuss in detail a time when you struggled to balance your personal faith and a public policy position? Senator Kaine?
TeamGupta: This happens all the time for every individual. If one is to be a trusted public servant, one has to represent the best interests of the people he or she is serving. There will be conflict at the local, state and national level, but one must put personal feelings aside when in public service. It is much more difficult in the two party system as expression of personal feelings on the second amendment, death penalty, abortion, human rights is important to be embraced by either party.
I do have one final question for you both tonight. It has been a divisive campaign. Senator Kaine, if your ticket wins, what specifically are you going to do to unify the country and reassure the people who voted against you?
TeamGupta: Whoever wins will have to review the make up of Congress before approaching unification of the country. If the same party controls the Executive and Legislative branches, it will be easy to control the Judicial branch with a Supreme Court nominee and then people will fall in line (be unified). If the Executive and Legislative branches are split, then we can try to unify again in 4 or 8 years.