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What are the issues?

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Our reporters dove a little deeper into four issues that should matter to our community. 

healthcareObamacare’s future will likely be determined by the presidential election.

Nick Li ’17

Obamacare has lowered the number of uninsured Americans by 46 million since its launch, but has actually raised costs of copays, premiums, deductibles, and healthcare in general, according to ObamaCare Facts.

One of the most controversial issues of the 2016 presidential election is healthcare. The reason for this controversy is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” passed in 2010.

Obamacare was passed with the goal to provide Americans with access to affordable, quality healthcare, and to reduce the growth in the United States’ total healthcare spending. In addition, Obamacare expands the affordability, quality, and availability of private and public health insurance through consumer protections, regulations, subsidies, taxes, insurance exchanges, and other reforms, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

However, the success of the program is hotly debated. The proponents of the program herald the fact that Obamacare has in fact lowered the number of uninsured Americans by 8.8 million from 2013 to 2014, the biggest on record according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Since then, the program has benefited over 46 million.

Critics of Obamacare argue that the program has not been as successful as it appears. They cite the rising costs of copays, premiums, deductibles, and healthcare in general.

According to the president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates Robert Laszewski, healthcare providers such as Aetna are pulling out of the Insurance Exchangers in the Affordable Care Act due to tremendous losses from high prices, further limiting the amount of providers available to the public.

The official stance of the Republicans on healthcare is that they will be repealing Obamacare upon election. They view the Affordable Care Act as a direct attack on the Constitution, and it was more about the government wanting to expand its power over the economy than providing healthcare to Americans.

According to the House Democratic Caucus, all Americans deserve access to affordable, quality healthcare, and ensuring the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the continued strengthening of Medicare are priorities for the Democratic Party.

immigrationWalls or no walls, immigration is a key presidential issue.

Rohan Jhunjhunwala ’18

According to United States Custom and Border Patrol Office, the total size of the United States’ border with Mexico is 102,514 miles. What to do with those 102,514 miles and illegal immigrants in the United States is not a settled issue.

Democrats and Republicans each have their own view on the border issue, and what measures should be taken about it.

The Democratic Party Platform states there is a “need to fix our broken immigration system.” They cite that there are over 11 million illegal immigrants currently within our country and say that these immigrants merit a path to citizenship.

They also plan to repeal the three- and ten-year bars as penalties for illegal immigrants. According to the American Immigration Council, the three-year bar from re-entry would apply to any illegal immigrant who stayed between 180 and 365 days. If the illegal immigrant had stayed for a time period greater than 365 days, the time period gets extended to ten years.

Democrats argue that these bans tear families apart by putting immigrants in a deadlock where they may not attempt to apply for a green card because leaving the country would immediately place them into a lengthy ban.

The Republican Party Platform on the other hand, states that illegal immigration “endangers everyone, exploits the taxpayers, and insults all who aspire to enter America legally.” They see the threat of gang violence and drug cartel violence as being caused, in part, by illegal immigrants.

They argue that the executive pardons in 2012 and 2014 were unconstitutional and seek to take a stronger stance by revoking those pardons with a republican president.

The Republican Party Platform discusses plans to build a wall along the southern border with the goal of reducing the traffic of drugs and weapons into this country.

Theology teacher Mr. Andrew DiDomenico discussed the implication of this “particularly sensitive issue” from a viewpoint centered in Christianity.

“[Pope Francis] talked a lot about this,” DiDomenico said. “Although there is no official teaching, there are certainly guidelines.”

DiDomenico said that a Catholic viewpoint should be centered on the individuals who are placed in this situation. He said that often we are too motivated in our own self-interest.

DiDomenico said he believes a state does have the right to control its borders, but that control must be grounded in mercy.

The debates surrounding the issue of immigration will continue beyond election day. Choices will be made by weighing the impacts and any available alternatives.

economics

The main differences are rooted in taxes and trade.

Tommy Pero ’17, Dan Malloy ’18

Economic policy has been hotly debated since the beginning of the nation, and this 2016 election has been no different.

The Republican Party Platform focused on many economic issues, including the national debt. Economics teacher Mr. John Ostick wants voters to ask questions about the issues during the election.

“Candidates should qualify the programs they are spending government money on,” Ostick said. “What things should be cut, and what shouldn’t?”

Republicans plan to cut “excessive” spending in order to balance the budget according to the party’s platform.

Democrats focused their Party Platform on taxes. Democrats say they want to have tax relief for the middle class but have the wealthy pay “their fair share.” Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton wants the wealthy to stop avoiding paying taxes and plans to make anyone with a gross income over $1,000,000 pay at least a 30 percent tax rate, according to taxfoundation.org.

Republicans and their presidential candidate, Donald Trump, support an income tax cut across the board in order to improve the economy. However, Trump’s campaign website states that “ the rich will pay their fair share, but no one will pay so much that it destroys jobs or undermines our ability to compete.”

Along with raising the income tax for the wealthy, Clinton wants to raise the estate tax, the tax on inherited assets transferred from the deceased to heirs, from 40% to 45% and the estate tax for the wealthiest Americans up to 65% according to Fortune. However, Trump pledges to repeal the estate tax according to The Hill.

The minimum wage is another issue. Democrats support a raise to $15 an hour from the current $7.25 federal minimum wage according to their party platform, while Republicans say in their platform that the issue should be left to the states. However, Trump said he would actually consider raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour, according to The Hill.

Ostick said that supporters of raising the minimum wage have good intentions. “It’s obviously to try to get better salaries for people with lower incomes,” he said.

However, these good intentions may not lead to effective policy.

“It tries to help people, but it actually lowers incentive and increases unemployment because businesses will hire the minimum wage but they will hire less,” Ostick said.

When it comes to the issue of trade, Trump has taken a protectionist stance. He wants to bring jobs back to America by slapping tariffs on countries where American businesses outsource like China (45% according to the LA Times) and Mexico (35% according to CNN).

Trump also wants to re-negotiate or back out of trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) according to his campaign website, deals in which he believes the other countries are “taking our jobs” and racking up trade deficits with the United States according to a statement made by Trump in the first presidential debate.

Ostick said that free trade is the best way to go in a perfect world in order to grow the economy. However, he admitted that Trump does have a case for opposing NAFTA.

“Jobs were sucked out. Agreements were broken. There were gains that did not happen,” Ostick said. “So you could probably make a case for Trump on why NAFTA did not work.”

Clinton and the Democratic Party also oppose trade agreements that “do not support good American jobs, raise wages, and improve our national security” according to the Democratic Party Platform. Clinton and the Democratic Party currently oppose the TPP, although Clinton has called it the “gold standard” in the past.

As seen here, the Republicans and Democrats have their fair share of agreements and disagreements when it comes to the economy. Ostick urges voters to look solely at the facts when making their decision on who to vote for.

“There’s no question, no matter where you are, vote with knowledge, not emotion,” Ostick said.

education

Election outcomes could affect all aspects of education, from paying for college to local school choice.

Ethan Rowley ’18

From Malvern to the local township to the Oval Office, education is affected at all levels of government

Dean of Faculty Coaching and Development Mrs. Beverly Gordon says that both major parties recognize issues in American education, however they have opposing views on how to go about combating them.

“Prop up the current system under the Democratic plan and increase access to funding for those schools so they can increase and become better,” Gordon said. “And then for the Republican plan to increase parent choice and allow tax money to continue to go to schools but by way of parent choice.”

In a speech in September 2016, Republican Nominee Donald Trump said he wants to allow underprivileged children to attend any K-12 school they want, and said the federal government has more than enough money to pay for it.

Trump said that at the state and federal level, the United States spends more than $620 billion on K-12 education each year. That’s an average of about $12,296 for every student enrolled in our elementary and secondary public schools.

Trump cited major cities as some of the biggest per student spenders, including New York City, Baltimore, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

“Just imagine if each student in these school systems was given a scholarship for this amount of money – allowing them and their family to choose the public or private school of their choice,” Trump said. “Not only would this empower families, but it would create a massive education market that is competitive and produces better outcomes.”

The 2016 Republican platform reflects Trump’s choice-based education plans, while also notably calling for the federal government to stay out of education and leave its administration to the states.

“[A state with an education reform plan that involves repealing Common Core] recognizes the wisdom of local control of our schools and it wisely sees consumer rights in education — choice — as the most important driving force for renewing education,” the platform states.

Government teacher and History Department Chair Mrs. Harriet Lappas says the Republican view comes from a stricter interpretation of the Constitution.

“According to the Constitution, it’s up to each individual state to legislate their budget and legislation for education,” Lappas said. “I would have to think that the Republican party would want to take a much more hands-off approach and allow the states to legislate it.”

Lappas said Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton has a different plan.

“I do think that Hillary Clinton, from what I’ve read, believes in Common Core standards, and is going to continue with the Obama policy of Common Core standards,” Lappas said.

The national Common Core standards initiative specifies what students should know at each grade level and describes the skills needed for college and career readiness. Individual school districts are responsible for determining curriculum and strategies to meet Common Core standards.

Although Clinton is in favor of national education standards as she stated in an April 2016 interview with Newsday, she called the rollout of the Common Core “disastrous,” stating that states were not adequately prepared to implement the standards.

In addition to Common Core and other national education requirement legislation, Clinton has historically been pro-charter schools.

The position of the Democratic Party is also pro-charter schools. “Democrats are committed to providing parents with high-quality public school options and expanding these options for low-income youth. We support democratically governed, great neighborhood public schools and high-quality public charter schools, and we will help them disseminate best practices to other school leaders and educators,” the platform states.

The Democratic platform opposes for-profit charter schools. “We believe that high-quality public charter schools should provide options for parents, but should not replace or destabilize traditional public schools,” the platform states.

Just as in K-12 education, the two parties and candidates diverge on issues regarding college education.

The Republican platform states that the federal government should not be in the business of originating student loans, and advocates for private sector participation in student financing.

“Any regulation that increases college costs must be challenged to balance its worth against its negative economic impact on students and their families,” the platform states.

Conversely, the Democratic platform promises greater federal involvement in student debt management.

“Bold new investments by the federal government, coupled with states reinvesting in higher education and colleges holding the line on costs, will ensure that Americans of all backgrounds will be prepared for the jobs and economy of the future,” it states. “Democrats are unified in their strong belief that every student should be able to go to college debt-free, and working families should not have to pay any tuition to go to public colleges and universities.”

Clinton’s campaign website states, “Every student should have the option to graduate from a public college or university in their state without taking on any student debt. By 2021, families with income up to $125,000 will pay no tuition at in-state four-year public colleges and universities. And from the beginning, every student from a family making $85,000 a year or less will be able to go to an in-state four-year public college or university without paying tuition.”

The complexities of education policy will continue to challenge the next president and all levels of our government. “Both parties acknowledge there are issues within the system, nobody’s denying that that, but what the two parties disagree about is how to go about tackling that issue,” Gordon said.

About Ethan Rowley

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