In the first “Students Talk Back” event of the semester, Californian office members and Democratic and Republican students discussed President Barack Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address.
The event, entitled “Students Talk Back: A Politics and Public Policy Forum,” featured a panel consisting of former California Assemblymember of the 44th district Anthony Portantino, former California Senator serving the 19th district Tony Strickland, Vice President of the USC College Democrats Shikhar Gupta and President of the USC College Republicans Jennifer Massey.
The forum focused on key areas that President Obama presented in his address, specifically those that continue to be a pressing issue for partisan gridlock in Washington, D.C.
Portantino viewed the State of the Union address as a wake-up call for both parties in the Capital.
“Let’s put in place things that make the air cleaner, the water drinkable, our vehicles run more efficiently,” Portantino said. “Whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, [if] you leave your garage door closed [with the vehicle on,] you die. It shouldn’t even be a partisan conversation.”
Tony Strickland stressed that climate change is over-argued and will always be an ongoing issue.
Another major issue discussed was establishing economic equality. In his address, President Obama called –— an “equal pay for equal work” regardless of gender.
“Certainly as the father of two daughters who someday want to retire and [have them] take care of me, [I want them to be] extremely successful,” Portantino said.
Jennifer Massey believed that both parties should listen to each other and work to find common ground over the issues that U.S. citizens want addressed in 2014.
“I think that the issue that they could work on together would probably be creating job opportunity and reducing the federal budget deficit,” Massey said. “[There was] an NBC Wall Street Journal poll last week that asked what Americans thought were the biggest issues facing 2014 and about 91 percent said creating jobs and 74 percent [said] reducing the federal budget deficit.”
Many of the students attending the forum were able to ask panelists questions and engage in the debate.
Sam Dorn, a junior majoring in broadcast and digital journalism and political science, had mixed opinions toward the debate.
“I can’t say I agree with every point, but I don’t think you ever do,” Dorn said. “[It was] definitely a realistic look at [the] second term.”