The debate about the economy, to me, is just political noise and not much else. Why should senatorial candidates debate about a topic that is clearly the domain of the executive? Sure, legislators enact economic laws, but they do so because the executive asks them to do so.
In the presidential system of government, it is the executive that sets the economic agenda, and calls on the legislative to enact laws that will support this agenda. Legislators may file bills of economic nature from time to time, but those bills do not fit the agenda, they are not prioritized.
So where does the Senate fit into the so-called debate on the economy? Why debate on statistics? Can they correlate those figures with the bills passed by the Congress?
(Besides, government numbers are always disputed; see this column by Manuel Buencamino. All I can say is this: changing the rules in mid-game is called cheating.)
And as MLQ3 has said, making the economy as the topic of the debate is a double-edged sword. It can always boomerang against the one who threw it.
John Marzan has a continuing post on the issues that should be tackled by the opposition.
Electoral reform and political reform, for starters. We keep on lamenting the kind of politics that we have, yet we fail to take our legislators to task when it comes to these matters. See this PCIJ post for what could have been.
Maybe the economy-as-debate-topic is just a smokescreen to hide other issues that should be tackled.