Getting the Story Straight: 2012 Political Head to Head

Ava Bindas, Mike Golz, Editors

As the election approaches, an assault of political advertisements and speeches leaves a void for the constituent. It is difficult to discern the true issues of the election when the candidates themselves often beat around the bush in addressing the public.    We think it’s time to present some of the general arguments on a few important questions this election season so we can start to get the story straight.

Healthcare Reform

Conservative Stance

The passage of Obamacare is a heated issue. The first argument against it is strictly fiscal: the cost of such an extensive healthcare program will move our national debt in the wrong direction. At a time when the public is crying out for reduced government debt, a multi-billion dollar health care plan is really not what we need. Others argue that socialized medicine will reduce many of the private market incentives for the medical industry, leading to fewer doctors and less drug research. Though the legislation gives patients new rights in health care, they are rights that will be gained at the expense of an innovative and productive medical system. Who wants the right to guaranteed coverage if there are no lifesaving drugs to fix your preexisting condition?

On a more ideological note, Obamacare requires citizens to have medical insurance and will penalize them for failure to do so. This is a massive violation of the powers given to the federal government in the Constitution. Nowhere, not in the commerce clause nor in the elastic clause, is the government designated such power in controlling consumer decision for an entire industry. A U.S. District Court case posited that the passage of the Affordable Care Act was outside the bounds of Congressional authority. The Supreme Court may have ruled differently, but the sentiment is clearly still out there.

Liberal Stance

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, isn’t a government takeover of healthcare, like some pundits claim. It fixes flaws in our system and builds upon the private industry to make healthcare easier to attain and maintain.

Obamacare provides common sense protections for Americans. Patients can’t be dropped if they’re sick, denied coverage for preexisting  conditions, discriminated against because of their gender, or be held to arbitrary lifetime caps for their coverage.

While some argue that Obamacare is wasteful spending, that’s just not the case. The Affordable Care Act actually lowers the national deficit by $100 billion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Let’s also not forget that on June 28, 2012, the United States Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, deeming that under Congress’s power to levy taxes the Act is indeed constitutional.

Voter ID

Conservative View

In a democracy like the U.S. is intended to be, faith in the electoral processes in essential. Cases of voter fraud, regardless of the fact that they comprise such a small proportion of the electorate, threaten public confidence in the integrity of the voting system.

The Voter ID amendment in Minnesota would require all voters to present specific state-approved identification before voting at their local polling place. Just think about it! You have to show an ID to take the ACT. It doesn’t make sense that you shouldn’t have to show an ID to vote for the next president of the U.S.A. This idea has an interesting side-effect as well: those willing to put in the effort to keep their IDs valid get to vote. Aren’t these proactive individuals the ones who should be voting? The goal of the policy truly is voter confidence: we cannot have a successful democracy if the voting base does not believe in the polling system.

Liveral View

Currently, you need identification to vote in Minnesota. The proposed Voter ID amendment would narrow the forms of acceptable ID, and likely disenfranchise many legitimate Minnesota voters. Not to mention, the amendment would be unnecessarily costly to implement.

Showing ID wouldn’t even crack down on the two most prevalent types of fraud– felons or immigrants attempting to vote– government-issued ID doesn’t indicate criminal or immigration status.

In the last elections, voter fraud occurred at a rate of .006%; that’s just over 100 people who attempted fraud. Compare that number to 215,000, which is the number of eligible Minnesotan voters without sufficient ID to vote under the proposed amendment. Add in the $30-$50 million cost to implement the plan every two years, and the amendment seems to make very little sense.

Energy Policy (specifically energy prices and government subsidy of renewable energy)

Conservative View

The cost of energy and rising gas prices must be addressed. One way to do this is to decrease American reliance on foreign oil-producing conglomerates like OPEC, possibly by reducing restrictions on drilling in interior sectors such as North Dakota to increase production. I have a soft spot in my heart for environmental issues. Yet for me, the issue is not about the health of the environment; it is about human initiative and resistance to government regulation. In order to truly make gains in renewable energy, there must be a synergy between traditional firms like oil companies and new age ideas like solar energy. Only then can we convince those environmentally apathetic companies that advancement of energy practices can be about becoming more efficient simply because, as humans, we can. Progress towards renewable energy must be the product of human will. Further regulation by the government will inevitably pass costs onto the consumer and only annoy firms to the point of having little interest in renewable energy research.

Liberal View

Under Obama, 75% of the nation’s oil and natural gas resources have been opened up, and with supplemental renewable energy sources gaining strength, the other 25% can remain protected. It’s tempting to take the easy way out and destroy the environment in the process. But it makes more sense in the long run to strike a sensible compromise.

Renewable energy sources aren’t ready to be utilized on a major scale, so government should invest in their growth rather than dole out tax breaks to oil companies that certainly don’t need them. The price of gasoline is based primarily on the price of crude oil; taxes, or lack thereof, have no effect on the price of crude oil. So wouldn’t that money be better spent on technology that will alleviate consumers and the environment?

We must exercise caution. When it comes down to taking a stance on issues, we must always consider our values and the facts, and avoid blindly binding ourselves to one side or the other.