Student political groups hold semi-annual debate
Sticking to their parties’ lines, the Rutgers University College Republicans and Rutgers University Democrats discussed national and state issues last night at the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue campus.
Members of the University chapters of the two major political parties disagreed on the issues of job creation, health care and the upcoming presidential election in a mildly tempered debate.
“[The American Jobs Act] has done nothing at all,” said Connor Montferrat, president of the College Republicans. “Unemployment numbers haven’t changed for two and a half years now — it’s at 8.6 [percent] right now.”
Montferrat said the act’s effects on the weak economy were insufficient, resulting in more debt and higher taxes in the future.
The jobs act will total $447 billion, of which $89 billion will be spent on putting people back to work directly, while $105 will be spent on infrastructure projects, which are projected to provide large numbers of short-term jobs, according to the White House’s website.
Another facet of the act are tax cuts and credits to help small businesses.
Dan Pereira, vice president of the Democrats, said some of the act’s faults were results of the lack of political bi-partisanship at the hands of Republicans.
He said the act is helpful to small businesses and everyday Americans by creating long-term employment.
“This act has tax cuts for small businesses — it has tax cuts to hire more workers and hire more long-term workers,” said Pereira, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. “It has critical mechanism to save jobs.”
Republicans addressed the question of health care and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed by Obama in 2010 with skepticism.
“I think it’s a very dangerous precedent to set,” said Alex Weiss, vice president of the College Republicans. “Do you want a government to tell you to engage in a contract with a private entity?”
The act, which is meant to extend health care to an additional 30 million people according to The New York Times, has been under heavy fire from a long list of Republicans.
The Democrats defended the law as constitutional, having been found so by a number of lower courts. A decision by the Supreme Court is still to be made.
“Yes, it is constitutional, first of all,” Pereira said. “It doesn’t force anyone to buy anything. Congress can regulate commerce and Congress can enforce laws.”
On the topic of the upcoming presidential election, the two parties disagreed on the state of the Republican party and the uncertainty of the candidate.
“I think we will be united to defeat Obama, whether or not Obama is dealing with the fiscal crisis properly,” Montferrat said.
Zach Laporta, a member of the Democrats, said he did not think there is cohesiveness in the Republican candidate field.
“I think the Republican field really isn’t united behind one candidate,” he said. “I think the primary reason is that their hearts aren’t in it.”
Both University Republicans and Democrats agreed on one thing — Gov. Chris Christie would have been a threatening opponent to President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election.
In contrast, Pereira said he was thankful Christie did not choose to run, while Montferrat said he was glad the governor stayed to finished what he started in New Jersey.
“He would’ve been a really strong candidate, he would have unified the party,” Pereira said. “The governor is one of the best campaigners I’ve ever seen.”
Montferrat said he had a job to do, and so far in his two years as governor, he accomplished much more than his predecessor, Jon Corzine.
“I’m glad he stayed in New Jersey to finish the job,” he said. “Here’s a guy who wanted to turn Trenton upside down, and he certainly has. I’m glad he’s staying for another four years.”
The debate also invoked the issues of military involvement in the Middle East and last month’s N.J. Legislature election, which University Democrats called fitting to the constituency.
“I agree it was a terrible turnout. But in this case, partisans turned up and there are more Democrats in the state, and that makes it pretty safe for all incumbents,” Pereira said.