The Great Claremont Debate
On Tuesday night, the Claremont College Republicans and Democrats of the Claremont Colleges debated over three heated policy issues. The debate remained pretty tame, with the only bustle coming from the audience: One audience member publicly berated another audience member for asking a question that he saw as inappropriate. A Canadian in the audience asked the debaters about their perception of Canadacare and why the U.S. hasn't adopted it yet. Another audience member then stood up and berated the Canadian for asking such a question—one the debaters clearly couldn't answer.
Aside from the excitement from the audience, the debaters remained calm tackling the three topics: energy, the federal deficit, and Obamacare.
Professor Busch, a faculty member of the Government department, moderated the debate. Each side began with a three-minute presentation followed by a rebuttal from the opposing side and then ten minutes of question and answer from the audience.
Each debater stuck pretty close to the talking points of his respective party. Carson Williams, Pomona '13, began the debate for the Republicans talking about energy. Williams emphasized the billions of dollars the government has lost in spending on green initiatives. He also emphasized that the government shouldn't spend money on companies or start-ups that are failing.
Speaking for the Democrats, Erin Franks, CMC '12, highlighted that the government needs to stop subsidizing large oil and gas companies. With this saved money, Franks proposed funding more start-ups, like wind energy, and putting government resources toward research and development.
Sam Stone, CMC '14, kicked off the debate on how to handle the country's current deficit, representing the Democrats' views. He emphasized that debt (the total amount the U.S. owes, while deficit is a yearly gauge) is a political issue rather than a policy one and said that, while this country clearly has a debt problem, we should focus on things like restoring the economy first.
Sean Houseworth, CMC '13, responded for the Republicans, warning that we need to develop a long-term plan to handle the debt now, rather than continuing to "kick the can down the road." He noted that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security—all programs the Democrats don't want to touch—are the biggest drivers behind our debt, while Stone pointed to the Bush tax cuts as the biggest legislative contributor to debt.
Lastly, Hannah Burak, CMC '13, spoke about Obamacare from a Republican stance. She began by saying, "The U.S. deserves better than Obamacare," and pointed to the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as unconstitutional. She also noted that the ACA would cause insurance rates to rise.
College Democrat Aseem Chipalkatti, CMC '15, maintained that individual mandates are nothing new and that Obamacare straddles a nice line between a socialist program and capitalism (to which Burak responded, "The middle of socialism and capitalism is socialism."). Chipalkatti noted that, while Obamacare is not perfect, it "tries to fill in the pothole that is our healthcare system today."
The Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) sponsored the event, which lasted an hour and a half and had about 50 attendees.