Path to the Presidency: What issues matter to you?
Oct. 31, 2012
By John Vettese and Jeremy Quattlebaum, Student Voices staff writers
The presidential debates are over, and next week, the nation’s voters will elect the next president of the United States.
When you go into the voting booth to make your choice, how do you make your decision? As a first-time voter, many thoughts may go through your mind about the candidates. But what is this election really about?
The presidential election is about more than just the candidates’ backgrounds and personalities; it is about their viewpoints and ideas – their positions on the issues.
Many citizens cast their votes based on the issues – items of public concern relating to government policy, both domestic and foreign. What is government policy? It usually refers to a government’s laws or guidelines for how the government enforces those laws. But through the lens of the election, issues also refer to candidates’ different outlooks on how those laws should be shaped.
Here are some of the major issues:
Economy and taxes: With unemployment hovering around 8 percent and a growing deficit, these are dominant issues in this campaign. The candidates differ on several areas.
President Obama argues that the tax rate should increase for the wealthiest Americans but wants to keep Bush tax cuts for those earning $250,000 or less. Obama states that a recent drop in the unemployment rate is sign that the economy is on the rebound. His policy calls for tougher regulations on the financial industry. When Obama became president, the country was in a severe fiscal crisis. He says the economic recovery will take several years.
Gov. Mitt Romney argues for an across-the-board tax cut and the closure of many loopholes. He says the tax cut will promote economic growth. Government spending should be reduced, including funding cuts for programs considered nonvital or inefficient. Regulations, especially in the investment sector, should be reduced to help the economy grow, he says.
Education: Obama has the benefit of four years of policy, which includes increasing access to preschool, offering increased funding for schools with innovative education approaches and increased funding for improvements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. While not shuttering the Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act, which requires that all students meet reading and math adequacy marks by 2014, the president has allowed states to waive the punitive standards if the state adopts approved reform measures.
Romney wants to do away with the No Child Left Behind Act and adopt what his campaign calls a “straightforward public report card” that will assess schools’ performance. Romney has said he wants to expand the role of education to the states. He has called for plans to try to attract and retain the best teachers and remove those who are ineffective. Romney also says parents should have a wider choice in where their children attend school.
Health care: Obama wants to see the final provisions of his 2010 federal health care law, called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, take effect. Some of the reforms won’t be in place until 2014 and beyond. Now, parents can keep their children on their insurance plans until they are 26 and new insurance coverage options are available to individuals who have been uninsured for at least six months because of a preexisting condition.
Romney wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He says that it is an example of the federal government having too much power because it places a mandate on all Americans to get health insurance. Instead, he says each state should pass its own health care plan tailored to its residents.
Decide and vote!
Don’t take our word for it, do your own reading on the issues that matter to you! Don’t just look at one source, either; study a variety of viewpoints on the issues facing the next president, and the policies proposed to deal with them.
What do you think?
How important are these issues to you in deciding whom to support for president? Which of these issues affect you the most? Which concern you the least? Are there other issues that will influence your decision? Are there issues that the candidates have not discussed that you want to hear more about? Join the discussion!
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