Tuesday night marks the fourth Republican presidential debate, and for some, things are starting to feel a little repetitive. For two hours, it seems safe to say that the conservative contenders will argue for limited government, lower taxes, and free trade. They will likely spout verbal attacks at Hillary Clinton, and possibly the liberal media. And Donald Trump, as always, will stand center stage.
But the Fox Business moderators could do at least one thing to shake the night up: Ask different questions. There are at least three policy topics that have barely, if ever, been touched on in the last three debates — including many that have dominated recent news headlines.
Here are some topics the GOP candidates could address on Tuesday:
Paid family leave
Newly elected House Speaker Paul Ryan has been all over the news for his recent comments on paid family leave. Ryan had insisted that he wouldn’t accept the position of Speaker unless he was able to balance time with his family, a comment progressives found hypocritical because of his opposition to a federal paid family leave program.
In the wake of that news, however, only one Republican candidate has been asked about paid family leave during a debate setting. That candidate was Lousisana Governor Bobby Jindal, and it was asked during the so-called “undercard” debate of lower polling candidates. Jindal responded that while he wanted people to have paid leave, “The government can’t wave a magic wand and make that happen.”
The United States is one of the only developed countries in the world that does not require paid time off for maternity or sick leave. This means 88 percent of the workforce without the ability to take paid family leave and 40 percent of the workforce without the ability to take a paid day off when they’re sick or caring for a family member, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Despite the lack of a federal policy, however, four states currently have implemented laws requiring most employers to offer days of paid sick leave, and cities have been doing the same, while three states have paid family leave programs.
Guns laws and access to guns
Gun control has been a hot issue in the news as of late, but it has barely come up during the previous three Republican debates. The only question on the issue was posed in the last debate to Donald Trump, who was asked a question about the recent mass shooting at Umpqua Community College.
In response, Trump said that he believed the college was a gun-free zone (a claim which has been disputed) and that mentally ill people seek out those areas to commit mass murder. Trump said he carries a gun on his person “sometimes a lot” in order to defend himself.
A Republican candidate for president has yet to be asked about voting rights during a debate, despite numerous headlines from across the country about policies that many say are infringing on people’s right to vote.
In Alabama, for example, state officials are planning to close 31 driver’s license offices — mostly in impoverished, majority-black counties — which could make it harder for residents to obtain identification necessary to vote. In Wisconsin, a federal judge recently rejected demands from local students, veterans, and low-income residents to allow them to use alternative forms of voter ID at the ballot box. And in New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie — he himself a Republican presidential candidate — just vetoed a bill that would have expanded access to voting.