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Brandeis Holds Multi-Partisan Debate

Published: October 26, 2012
Section: News


Brandeis held a multi-partisan debate Wednesday night, that offered political club leaders an opportunity to share their beliefs on pressing political issues. The debate, moderated by the politics department, was organized into discussions on the economy, foreign policy and social issues, much like the structure of the recent Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates.

Represented at the debate were Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Brandeis College Republicans (BCR), Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), the Brandeis Libertarian-Conservative Union (BLCU) and the Brandeis Democrats (’Deis Dems).

The debate focused heavily on the current economic situation, and each club representative was given a tightly-moderated 60 seconds to express his or her club’s viewpoints, followed by an optional rebuttal from opposing clubs.

“We are not in an economic recovery,” Nipun Marwaha ’12, of BCR said. “Unemployment has only recently dropped below 8 percent, which means banks shouldn’t be running around willy nilly. If we reign in government that’s trying to manipulate the market, that’s how we’ll get an economic recovery.”

Contrary to Marwaha’s strong belief that the United States is not in an economic recovery, Russell Leibowitz ’14 of ’Deis Dems responded, “We don’t have a slowdown in the economy anymore, we’re in a recovery. We’ve had 30-straight months of private sector job growth, and we need to adjust existing debt in a balanced way. There should be $2.5 of spending cuts for every $1 of revenue increase. It’s not just as simple as saying we need to cut spending,” Leibowitz said, emphasizing that cutting spending could seriously hurt funds designated for impoverished children or federal support funds for college students.

Aaron Fried, ’14 of YAL, presented a much less balanced approach to the problem of the current national debt.

“We need to cut spending now,” Fried said. “We currently have $16 trillion in debt, so both parties need to stop spending. Republicans especially need to realize that we can’t keep up this military spending. What’s the point in having 150 military bases overseas?”

Daniel Goulden ’14 of SDS presented a viewpoint much like that of students who attended Occupy Boston last year in Boston’s Dewey Square. He criticized big business and the “1 percent” for taking over our government.

“Nothing is going to get done if big businesses continue to shut down our government. The 1 percent has taken over our government, and it’s impossible to get anything done.” Goulden continued to criticize U.S. military spending, saying “Why on Earth do we need a global military? The United States exists in the Western Hemisphere and it should stay there. The majority of our money is going to the military, which we don’t need.”

Goulden emphasized that SDS is a leadership-less club, where much like at the Occupy protests, club decisions are reached through a consensus vote.

“Everyone in SDS is equal and has an equal say. We protect the rights of minorities and the people who don’t speak as much. The government is a way for the community to work together to come to decisions, and should be made up of community members. Government shouldn’t be like our current government where citizens have a voice only once in four years,” Goulden said.

Goulden continued to emphasize that the only way to solve the U.S. financial crisis is to “make the richest people in our country pay their fair share. This is an easy crisis to solve,” Goulden said. “We need to cut military spending, make the rich pay more and make sure that big banks don’t run our country.”

As the debate continued, the discussion topic gradually shifted to health care, and American access to it. Nahum Gilliat ’14 of YAL spoke of his loss of hope for the future of programs like Medicare and Social Security.

“Medicare and Social Security are both unsustainable,” Gilliat said. “There is investment fraud, so Social Security can’t last. You need a constant supply of new investors in these programs, and our generation represents the latest batch of investors who are getting screwed having to pay for Baby Boomers. Medicare is just putting in less and getting out more, therefore it is not sustainable. No future in these programs for our generation, and we need to phase them out right away, to let the young opt out.”

Leibowitz countered Gilliat’s comment with a more balanced point of view.

“Medicare and Social Security have their issues, but they aren’t ponzi schemes and we shouldn’t get rid of them. People who earn more money, currently pay less. That should change. We should also raise the retirement age because we live in an age where people live longer and work longer. By doing so we can ensure everyone is paying into these programs to make sure they’re solvent for many years to come,” Leibowitz said.

Contrary to Gilliat and Leibowitz, Goulden stressed that health care of all kinds should be free in the United States. “No man is an island, we need to provide free health care for each other,” Goulden said. “We need health care reform, which we didn’t get under Obama. We have the highest health care costs out of many countries and poor delivery of care. We need a system where everyone has access to free health care. We need to provide this human right.”

Following a lengthy discussion on the state of the American economy, club representatives spoke about issues such as the rise in tuition rates, national security and social issues like the legalization of marijuana and same-sex marriage.