Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute uses a National Review Online column to offer suggestions for the Fox News anchors moderating tonight’s debate among Republican presidential candidates.

The outcome will likely be decided on the basis of who makes the best quip or the biggest gaffe.

But there are some other, more basic questions that I wish someone would ask.

What is the purpose of government? Is government a tool to achieve your goals, or are there limits to what it can and should try to do? For instance, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee see government as arbitrating, teaching, or enforcing moral values. Ben Carson and Donald Trump want government to create jobs. Nearly all the candidates see themselves as fighting for or protecting the middle class. But how do these goals comport with constitutional or philosophical limitations on government?

Can you cut the size and cost of government without offending anyone or cutting programs that have popular support? GOP candidates talk about balancing the budget and reducing our ruinous $18.2 trillion national debt, but they seldom say how. Too often they simply pretend that you can balance the budget through economic growth or by trimming “fraud, waste, and abuse.” At the Voters First Forum this Monday, only Rick Perry used the words “cutting spending.” A few other candidates, including Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and Scott Walker, gingerly discussed the possibility of entitlement reform. But by and large, the acknowledgment of the need for spending restraint has been missing from the campaign trail. Some of the candidates, like Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump, have actually come out against entitlement reform, and most of the candidates have been far more comfortable talking about areas where they would increase spending, such as defense or farm programs.