On the issues: 2008

Some SHSU students clearly support the conservative war vet, while others root for the man with change; but many are just plain confused.

As the nationwide presidential race intensifies, SHSU students had a chance to hear five Republican and five Democrat students voice each candidate’s viewpoints at On the Issues 2008, held Tuesday evening in the LSC ballroom.

This event, presented by the Student Government Association, was moderated by Huntsville Mayor J. Turner who presented five topics discussed by both parties.

The rising cost of college tuition is issue No. 1 for many students. Kendall Scudder said his candidate, Barack Obama, feels that a college education should be affordable to every American.

“Obama supports a $4,000 tax credit for students for education and, in exchange, you do 100 hours of community service. Now, this is going to help your community and your pocketbook,” Scudder said.

Both candidates want to simplify the financial aid process for college students. Obama wants to completely eliminate the FAFSA and, instead, provide a box on tax forms people can check for their financial status to be reviewed. John McCain proposes the FAFSA be shortened and students be given reasonable payment plans for their loans.

As for students who major in education, Obama will pay for their entire college career in order to encourage those wanting to teach. McCain’s plan to generate better teachers was expressed by Ramiro Jamie of the College Republicans.

“McCain proposes that teachers be rewarded with better pay and that the government finds bad teachers another line of work,” Jamie said.

During the next four years, many students will enter the workforce and be required to get their own healthcare. Ronald Bright of the NAACP said John McCain will provide American families with a $5,000 tax refund to use toward healthcare, although some families are subject to being taxed for this service. McCain also supports a higher tax on cigarettes and higher prices for more qualified doctors.

Speaking for Obama was Monica Eaton of the NAACP, who said healthcare is a right, not a privilege.

“Obama’s plan allows citizens to keep their healthcare plans, but will drop premiums by up to $2,500. He will initiate a small business health tax credit so they can provide healthcare to employees,” Eaton said.

The economy, another issue for Americans, was discussed by McCain supporter, J’Ha Brion Jackson, who said his candidate’s comprehensive economic plan will create American jobs, ensure energy security and control government budget spending.

Speaking for the Democratic party, Steven Reynolds, said Obama will provide tax cuts for working families in order to jump-start the economy and create five million jobs by investing in a clean energy economy.

Abortion and stem cell research was discussed by Obama supporter Jeremy Carroll, who said his candidate strongly supports women’s rights and their ability to choose. He also believes in funding stem cell research, which has been proven to cure seven major diseases.

McCain does not agree with the Roe v. Wade decision and has promised to nominate conservative Supreme Court justices to overturn this ruling.

“McCain wants to promote faith-based communities to support pro-life and stop public funding to facilities that perform abortions,” Michael Brickhouse of Phi Delta Theta said.

On the topic of immigration, Alpha Delta Pi’s Jessica Grogan said McCain will work to secure borders and create a secure, accurate and reliable employment verification system to ensure employees are U.S. citizens.

Kelly Craig from Phi Beta Chi said that Obama believes the immigration system is broken and overwhelmed, forcing immigrants to wait years for application.

He plans to work with Mexico to reduce illegal immigrants crossing the border and crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrants.

“Obama believes that we must support a system that allows undocumented immigrants to pay a fine, learn English and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens,” Craig said.

Speaking after the debate was political science professor Dr. John W. Holcombe, who is excited about the amount of student involvement in this presidential race.

“There are many other offices on the ballot besides president, particularly congress. Many of the things John McCain and Barack Obama want to accomplish have to go through congress, so pay attention to them, too,” Holcombe said.

Also encouraging were President of the Republican Women’s Group in Huntsville, Kari French and Obama supporter, Kay Douglas.

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