Politics

The Issues Presidential Contenders Aren't Talking About

With all of the focus on the economy, other topics get short shrift from White House candidates.

So far, the singular focus on the economy is relegating other major issues to the shadows of the 2012 presidential campaign. And it's likely to stay that way.

SEE ALSO: Gingrich's Economic Moon Shot

The focus on the economy, including jobs, consumer confidence and a host of other issues under one big umbrella, is, of course, justified. It's always a top issue, so you shouldn't expect otherwise after a deep recession.

But this time, with the economy so dominant among domestic issues, and with foreign policy pretty much off the table, little else is being talked about.

Here are half a dozen important issues that are getting the silent treatment on the campaign trail:

Poverty. The Census Bureau reports that nearly one of every two Americans is poor or low income. Swaths of the country that rarely get attention remain stuck in persistent poverty. Hammering on this issue is not considered a winning strategy in presidential campaigns. Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards tried it in 2004, to little avail. The closest poverty will come to the issues spotlight this year will be in President Obama's focus on class warfare. But he'll try to keep the focus of his haves-vs.-have-nots fight on the middle class, not the poor.

Education. Specifically, this means the math and science gap between U.S. students and their better-trained counterparts in other parts of the industrialized world, especially Asia. A strong U.S. economy and a talented, modern labor force will need better math and science skills. Continuing to ignore this issue and the related question of how to fund education initiatives as government spending is slashed will have ramifications for years to come.

Climate change. Talking up what the U.S. should be doing to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and convincing other countries to take global warming seriously, may not be sound politically, especially with such a poisoned, partisan atmosphere in Congress. With neither the House nor the Senate likely to push such a divisive bill, there's little advantage for either party's presidential candidates to go out on a limb. But, of course, not talking about it won't make the issue go away.

Green economy. This was a central plank in Obama's 2008 platform. He pledged a huge federal investment in promoting a domestic and export market for U.S. green technology. Recession, legislative gridlock and partisanship have combined to stall the revolution. And without a big commitment from Uncle Sam, private investors hesitate to get involved. In a few global blinks of an eye, China has quickly stepped ahead of the U.S. in manufacturing wind power equipment and industrial-size solar cells. Both parties will pay lip service to battery technology, but that's a far cry from making green tech a big election theme.

Defense spending. Military procurement is one of the biggest and least monitored parts of the federal budget, amounting to about $120 billion a year. The defense industry is riddled with waste and abuse and costly weapons systems that seem to elude the ax even when lawmakers get tough about cutting spending and trying to slash the deficit. But no one wants to risk being seen as soft on defense, so sweeping reforms aren't likely to come from the candidates.

Identity theft. This will never be a top issue in a presidential race, but it is very much on the minds of consumers. Their interest will only grow with more reports about hackers gaining access to personal financial information, Social Security numbers and other personal data. A larger federal effort may be needed to push financial institutions and businesses to better protect individuals, but it's doubtful that effort will be pushed by the candidates.

Other issues, too, will be discussed on the periphery without ever making it to center stage of any political debate this year. It doesn't mean they're not important, just that the economy is sucking all of the oxygen out of the room.

Most Popular

When Could We Get a Third Stimulus Check?
Coronavirus and Your Money

When Could We Get a Third Stimulus Check?

President Biden and others in Congress are pushing for a third-round of stimulus checks, but it might be a while before we get them.
January 20, 2021
Where's My Stimulus Check? Use the IRS's "Get My Payment" Portal to Get an Answer
Coronavirus and Your Money

Where's My Stimulus Check? Use the IRS's "Get My Payment" Portal to Get an Answer

The IRS has an online tool that lets you track the status of your second stimulus check.
January 18, 2021
20 Best Stocks to Buy for the Joe Biden Presidency
stocks to buy

20 Best Stocks to Buy for the Joe Biden Presidency

Joe Biden has been sworn in as America's 46th president. These are 20 of the best stocks to own under the new administration.
January 20, 2021

Recommended

President Biden's Tax Plans for the Next Few Years
Politics

President Biden's Tax Plans for the Next Few Years

With control of both the House and Senate in Democratic hands, President Biden will be able to get more of his tax agenda through Congress. Here's wha…
January 20, 2021
Retirees' Guide to Do’s and Don’ts of Business Partnerships
Making Your Money Last

Retirees' Guide to Do’s and Don’ts of Business Partnerships

Know some of the business partnership pros and cons before diving in. A business partnership agreement is a good place to start.
January 11, 2021
A Second Round of PPP Loans is Coming (With Some Improvements)
Coronavirus and Your Money

A Second Round of PPP Loans is Coming (With Some Improvements)

PPP loans are getting a second life. There will be some helpful changes, like tax deductions for expenses paid with forgiven loan proceeds.
December 23, 2020
11 Superfoods to Boost Productivity at Work
business

11 Superfoods to Boost Productivity at Work

When you’re faced with a hectic workday, it can be all too easy to make some not-so-healthy food choices in between attending meetings, checking email…
December 9, 2020