The Suffolk Journal

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SuffolkGOP and College Democrats debate state and national issues

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Michael Christina

Journal Staff

The Student Government Association hosted its annual political debate in the Sawyer Café Wednesday night, where the SuffolkGOP squared off with the College Democrats. Representing the SuffolkGOP were Ed Plamowski and Karl Beckstein. Kris Callahan and Tino Capobianco represented the College Democrats. Moderated by former chief of staff to Sal Dimasi, Jason Aluia, the debate tackled pressing state and national issues, which was followed by the answering of attendee’s questions.

The issues discussed were those that have been recently headlined for a variety of reasons. The debate began with the extension of the Bush tax cuts. The SuffolkGOP touting the party lines oppose the cuts on the basis that it would hurt small businesses and increase taxes on middle class Americans up to $3,000 in a weak economy. They also believe it is wrong to classify people making around $250,000 as the top echelon of the wealthy and that they too should have the Bush tax cuts extended for them.

The College Democrats were for increasing the tax cuts, but only for the middle class. They believe wealthy people should be excluded from the tax cuts due to a cost of $700 billion if they were to be extended. Callahan also stated it necessary to provide money to the people who will spend it, saying that the top 5 percent of wealthy Americans are saving.

Another discussion concerned the proposed repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military policy. Beckstein believes it to be strictly a military issue, stating that even though 57 percent of Americans want it repealed, only 26 percent of those polled within the military approved. His counterpart in Plamowski did not fall along those exact lines believing that the repeal should pass.

Plamowski stated the repeal could have already been passed due to a prior court decision, but was not because of a lack of support from President Obama.

Capobianco believes that sexual orientation should not factor into whether or not citizens should be allowed into the military, saying that sexual orientation is not a choice and that the country is in need of troops regardless of any differences. He also said that if someone was willing to put their life at risk for this country, they should be allowed to do so.

One issue that both parties did not see eye to eye on at any point was the extension of unemployment benefits. Callahan stated that 52,000 Massachusetts residents would be affected by cutting these benefits. He also compared cutting the benefits in comparison to the Bush tax cuts, saying that unemployment benefits would cost $12 billion in comparison to the previously mentioned $700 billion.

Capobianco said that he did not believe unemployment was not a “dirty word,” citing that many people across the country had no control over losing their job due to being laid off or had their jobs outsourced.

Beckstein countered by stating that extending the benefits after two years would provide incentive for people to stay out of work. He also believes the country does not have the resources to provide another welfare program at this time.

When opening up to the audience, a student with parents who had been laid off and were looking for work, but could not find anything, questioned the Republicans concerning how her family should be provided for. Beckstein’s response was to create more jobs in the private sector by cutting taxes and deregulation of the market.

Plamowski felt that government should help families who were unemployed find work within the private sector. In response, Callahan said the Republicans are more concerned with the long term when most families are in need of help right now. His solution was to simply keep the unemployment benefits going.

Another question raised by an audience member was the decline of the educational system in America. Both parties felt strongly that this was one of the most important issues facing the country, although both differed as to how they would resolve the problem.

Aluia provided a sense of humor as moderator within the debate at the times in which the waters got a little testy. Although both sides disagreed on a variety of topics, they did share a desire to come together and fix the problems at hand, saying they hope to have this generation be more tolerable of the opposing party than the legislators of today.

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SuffolkGOP and College Democrats debate state and national issues