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Did somebody say that tonight's debate is scheduled to be three hours long? This is going to require some serious caffeine.

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders might be kooky enough to be entertaining for a few hours, but how long can anybody listen to Beto O'Rourke before slumbering? Or hibernating.

Maybe the questions this time around will be better, and the moderators won't ask for one-word responses to such questions like, "What is the biggest threat to the United States?" (That happened in June.)

But since the sheer number of candidates has been pared down for tonight, and partly because of the increased time allotted for this public discourse, tonight's debate might shed a little more light on the Democratic candidates for president. Let's hope so.

Nobody's asking us, but here are some questions we'd like to hear asked tonight. And who knows, if these questions are asked, one of the candidates might accidentally give an answer. That'd almost be worth sitting through the opening remarks.

• Sen. Warren, do you think that President Obama didn't go far enough in his effort to reform American health care through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare? If so, what did he leave out?

• Sen. Sanders, in another debate earlier this summer, you said that the health-care industry in this nation is, quote, "not a business." Can you explain why?

• Sen. Harris, you've said you want to "re-examine" the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. But you haven't explicitly called for it to be abolished, as others have. What do you mean by re-examine?

• Mr. Yang, your plan to give every adult American $1,000 a month would cost the government $3.2 trillion a year. Social Security, by comparison, costs the nation $988 billion a year. You would pay for this guaranteed income with a value-added tax, or a consumption tax on goods at each stage of production. Isn't this the definition of "tax and spend"?

• Mayor Buttigieg, many in your party mocked Sarah Palin in 2008 for running for vice president of the United States after being governor of Alaska for a short time and a mayor before that. You've been mayor of Indiana's fourth-largest city for seven years. Why is your résumé for president stronger than Sarah Palin's?

• Vice President Biden, many in your party also mocked Ronald Reagan for being too old when he ran for president in 1980, when he was 69, and for re-election in 1984, when he was 73. If you're elected president, you would take office at the age of 79. Should voters take your age into consideration when voting in the primaries?

• Sen. Booker, several candidates have said they support reparations for slavery, but you actually proposed a bill in the Senate to create them. How would your plan work? Do you have specifics on who would pay, and who would receive?

• To all of the candidates: John Hickenlooper has dropped out of your nomination contest. But in an earlier debate, he made the point that in the last mid-term election, the Democratic Party flipped 40 Republican seats to take back the House of Representatives. But not one of those 40 congressmen supported the policies of the more progressive candidates on the stage tonight. Have the so-called progressives in your party outflanked the American people in this move to the left?

• Most of you have said you support giving illegal immigrants, or undocumented workers, health-care insurance under the Medicare-for-all idea. But nobody has provided a working estimate of the cost, not even the Congressional Budget Office. How much would this idea to provide health-care coverage for millions of non-Americans cost during your administration?

• Should illegal immigrants be allowed to vote in elections in the United States? Should felons?

• President Trump moved the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Would you move it back?

• President Trump has been criticized for using executive actions to get around what he calls gridlock, which is almost tradition in the modern presidency. Would any of you swear off against such executive decisions?

• According to one controversial estimate, the Green New Deal that most of you support would cost the nation $93 trillion. But that figure has been disputed because a right-leaning think tank came up with it and all the working parts and legislation that would make up the Green New Deal remains a work in progress. How much would your administration spend on the GND? Is $93 trillion too high a price, too low, or just about right?

• With mass shootings back in the news, and several of them at that, gun control is back in the news. The 1994 ban of military-style rifles was allowed to expire because it didn't work. Most of you support re-implementing it now. Why would it work to reduce gun violence in 2019 when it didn't in 1994?

And one more, just for the heck of it:

• Would any of you please, please, promise to get rid of the personally delivered State of the Union speech, and just dispatch a written bulletin to Congress on occasion, or from time to time, as the Constitution requires?

Editorial on 09/12/2019

Print Headline: Thursday night fights

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