The USC College Republicans and USC College Democrats debated issues ranging from gun control to college tuition at the Political Student Assembly’s first meeting of the semester Monday evening in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center.
Aubtin Heydari, a sophomore majoring in writing for screen and television, and Zeke Sandoval, a freshman majoring in policy, planning, and development represented the College Democrats. The College Republicans were represented by their President Jacob Ellenhorn and Mary Perez, a junior majoring in political science. The panel was moderated by PSA Director of Political Content Sonali Seth, who is also the editorial director of the Daily Trojan.
The debate began with the topic of the economy. Ellenhorn emphasized the need to lower the income tax rate and help small businesses.
“We cannot see an economy that will grow properly because every day Americans don’t have jobs,” Ellenhorn said.
Sandoval responded by saying that measures such as an increase in the minimum wage and expansion of national programs are crucial to helping the economy.
“The Obama administration has done a good job of pulling us out of the recession,” Sandoval said.
The next topic was the issue of gun control. Heydari emphasized the need for enforcement of existing regulations.
“Currently there are enforcement mechanisms. However, we need a way for the Obama administration to actually enforce these,” Heydari said.
The College Republicans agreed that gun control regulations were necessary, especially regarding the mentally ill.
“Why are people who clearly have mental health issues able to obtain guns?” Ellenhorn said.
The College Republicans also emphasized the need for a free market to make health care more affordable.
“It simply is not fair,” Ellenhorn said. “The Affordable Care Act is not affordable, ironically.”
The College Democrats countered, arguing that the current health care system is helping millions.
“The Affordable Care Act is far from a perfect system, but it has helped a lot of people,” Sandoval said.
Climate change was the next issue discussed. The College Democrats favored climate change policies that would achieve energy independence and greater sustainability.
“If our world isn’t sustainable, how can we have a sustainable society?” Heydari asked.
The College Republicans took a different approach to the topic. Instead of focusing on the issue of climate change domestically, Ellenhorn turned his attention to conflicts abroad.
“We shouldn’t negate extreme dangers. China is out of control, ISIS is out of control, Russia is out of control,” Ellenhorn said.
The debaters concluded by talking about the increase in college tuition. The College Republicans emphasized helping youth by modernizing the education system. These solutions included reducing tuition through private investment and adding vocational schools.
“You see people pursuing ridiculous degrees. For instance, majors like Lesbian Dance Theory aren’t going to end with jobs,” Ellenhorn said.
The College Democrats argued that student debt should be lowered and that private investment would be inadequate.
“Investors are known for making safe bets, and they are not going to invest in a kid from a low-income area,” Sandoval said. “That investors are just not going to go for.”