Join us as we tackle the 2012 Presidential Election. In the coming weeks, Collier Roberts will lead this discussion as the conservative voice, while Emily Cox will offer the liberal viewpoint.This week we discuss economic plans delivered in first of the three presidential debates between President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney. We have a student-oriented focus, so we give our perspectives and invite yours: For our generation, is President Obama’s stance on a more federal government involvement focus to higher education and student loans the best way to a stable future? Or is Governor Romney’s stance on leaving it up to states and privatization the better alternative?
Don’t forget to leave us a comment! Enjoy the week and we’ll be back after Thursday’s vice presidential debate between Democratic Sen. Joe Biden and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan.
By Emily Cox
I won’t lie. I wasn’t very impressed with President Obama’s debate performance Wednesday night. He is always a charismatic and powerful speaker, but during the debate with Romney, Obama was detached and hesitated to acknowledge the Republican contender when he was speaking. I wanted to shout through the T.V., “Where’s your fire and momentum? Why aren’t you bringing it?” I really wanted Obama to challenge Romney, to step up to the plate and engage with the conversation that was playing out. His disconnection truly made for a boring debate. And then there was Romney. I’m not one to give the GOP undue praise, but the party leaders obviously knew what was at stake and did a superb job of coaching Romney to be on his best game. He was personable, smiling, and even making some decently humorous jokes. He engaged with Obama’s statements and even offered a few mild attacks. Overall, I was fairly impressed.
But really Mitt? You would take away funding for PBS? I grew up on that program. Living in a house that didn’t have cable television for the greater part of my childhood, I learned to love Sesame Street and Arthur reruns. Then I grew older and loved PBS News Hour and all the random documentaries that came on each week. For me, PBS was the Discovery Channel, CNN, and Nickelodeon combined. The education I received from PBS and that children and adults across the country continue to receive from PBS is well worth the 0.01% of the federal budget that is endowed to the Public Broadcasting Service each year.
Several times during the debate, Romney defended his desire to promote public education in the United States. So why would he boast about wanting to cut federal funding for one of the most successful public education programs in existence? It all comes back to priorities and principles. Romney loves privatizing. And even though he values education, he made it clear that he plans to put in place a very different course for creating a successful education system in America than the course Obama is on. As an example that briefly came up in the debate, Romney believes in private lending for college loans, and Obama would rather cut out the middle man and let the money for student loans flow directly from the federal level. Already in his presidency, Obama has worked to reform the student loan sector so that subsidies previously going to banks offering private student loans have been cut, and the money is instead used to fund Pell Grants and direct federal student loans. Romney said Wednesday that he doesn’t want to cut the commitment to education, but instead work to make it more efficient. Then why doesn’t he back the plan to increase federal student loans? According to the Congressional Budget Office, the cut in subsidies will save the Federal Government $60 billion, and in turn almost $40 billion can be offered to students in need of Pell Grants or federal student loans. It just makes sense.
Romney said he doesn’t want to “cut our commitment to education,” but he has also stated several times that he is “very supportive” of his running mate Paul Ryan’s budget plan. Under Ryan’s plan, Pell Grants would be reduced or eliminated for millions of students from economically struggling families. Many of these students could not attend college without these federal grants. I am blessed enough to have the opportunity to attend a private university, but many students struggle to afford public universities’ tuition prices. If the federal government begins taking away aid for higher education, many college students may begin walking into classes with more and more empty seats.
I believe President Obama’s commitment to education is apparent through the programs and reforms he has endorsed over the last four years. Mitt Romney may have earned some respect as a debater, but if he wants to convince the public of his commitment to affordable and efficient education, he needs to reevaluate his love for privatizing.
By Collier Roberts
Wednesday night couldn’t have gone any better for Governor Romney’s first debate against the president. We have been reading and watching all of these negative attack ads against the governor, but this debate finally allowed for the candidates to show their true colors as they stood face-to-face, no teleprompters and no way of knowing what was coming from either side. Of course each party had prepared to combat what the other was more than likely going to say, but once the questions get asked, it’s war. I was very pleased to see how both of them were respectful and neither was too forceful. There are always going to be expectations of who is going to come out hot and who is not. Fortunately for Romney, being the underdog, he came out on top, while Obama defied his usual presence-demanding speaking talent that we are used to. This unfortunately, for the president, left many wondering if he even showed up. Many had said that in order for Romney to take the White House, he would have to come out swinging for the fences to show the American people in these debates who he really was, attacks aside. I believe he did just that, and more
The topic for this week’s discussion is focusing on the two paths towards a more efficient educational system and which path is better. More federal government involvement or more power in the hands of the states with increased privatization? The platform dynamic between the two parties on privatizing and government intervention is one that they essentially base their various other policies off of. Romney made it clear in his statements on Wednesday night that privatization is on the forefront of his role in reform of the education system. His state Massachusetts is ranked at the top of the school systems in the country, so to say his way to a better educational system is not where this country needs to head, is just fundamentally wrong. He talked about cutting federal funding. That’s a novel idea, cutting spending? No way. Yes way. America has to prioritize what is most important and not just keep spending and spending, which has led us to this massive amount of debt. There has to be regulation and efficiency in every way possible. Take the Chicago teacher strike for example. Teachers in Chicago make about twice as much, if not more, than the average income of that city. With such as poor education system, why are teachers refusing to work and asking for more when their results are horrendous? It is because of government involvement. If you want to have effective and lasting regulations, then states need to be in charge because there is no way that the federal government can tell each of the fifty states what is best for them. This blanket regulation, if you will, might help some, but is not making our education system any better. The United States doesn’t even come close to cracking the top 10 education systems in the world, and the president believes that more regulation is going to help that? Try again. Top-down reform equates to no where near the top for America on a global scale.
Lastly, a hot button issue Wednesday night was the debate over cutting federal student loans. Obama wants to increase, while Romney says no. The reason he doesn’t support increasing federal loans is simple. Why did the housing market crash? Simply because loans to buy houses were given out to families that knew they couldn’t afford them, but government insisted that if more people bought houses, the economy would grow. Low and behold, mortgages were not being paid, and houses were being foreclosed on left and right. Student loans work the exact same way, except student loans are the only debt you HAVE to pay off. Bankruptcy is not an option with student loans. I agree that the more students we have in higher education, the more opportunity America has for generational growth. At some point though, you have to say no to people, or else the student loan bubble will be the next to burst. Students are coming out of college with massive amounts of debt and can’t pay it back because there aren’t any jobs to do so with. If we regulate and make good investments with the federal loans, then the economy will reap the benefits of those smart investments. Private lending will lead growth in all areas of the path to education reform, and Obama hasn’t been cutting it with the way he has gone about it. Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney are businessmen. They know how to make the right investments, and know where to put money. I trust them more than I trust this president who has zero business experience and is too focused on pleasing rather than performing.