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The Daily Tar Heel

Faculty Mull Economic Plans of Bush, Gore

The UNC Economics Club sponsored the event as its first effort to revamp the group, which has been inactive for the past few years.

"The discussion will establish a dialogue between the econ faculty and students in a non-classroom setting in an informal discussion of econ topics that are relevant," said Melodie Potts, president of the Economics Club.

The professors in attendance, James Wilde, Arthur Benavie, Boone Turchi, Koleman Strumpf and Pat Conway, fielded questions from the audience and gave their analysis on candidates' economic proposals. The discussion centered on the way economics affects certain policies, specifically Social Security, education and tax cuts.

Benavie led the discussion on Social Security after passing out photocopied handouts of his articles on the subject. The entire panel agreed that Social Security will be endangered in the future, and both of the candidates' plans might have problems.

"Bush is trying to sell privatization because stock markets give higher returns, which is false," Benavie said, citing fluctuations in the market.

Strumpf explained the views of opponents to Gore's policy on Social Security. He said it is not clear whether future generations will receive the same benefits as the elderly are given now.

During the discussion of education, the professors focused on the school voucher issue as well as the potential drop in the supply of teachers. "Vouchers are a redistribution of money to the wealthy because their children are easier and less expensive to educate," Turchi said. "They are regressive, anti-democratic and will cause a division of population."

Strumpf dissented and defended the value of vouchers. "I view them as extremely egalitarian," he said. "Vouchers level the playing field."

The professors also explained the differences in the tax cut policies of both candidates.

"The Bush tax cut is bigger, in total dollars, than the Gore one," Wilde said, explaining that Bush's plan was to cut taxes across the board while Gore favored using tax incentives for such endeavors as paying for college.

Students in the audience expressed interest in the topic and were pleased with the information that the professors provided.

"(The forum) was very informational and cut through the political mumbo-jumbo that you usually get from the candidates," said senior economics major Joseph Presley.

Others were more critical.

"I got a better understanding of Social Security, but it didn't really help me with voting," said junior Nathan Hanna.

Audience members also appreciated the informal setting of the discussion and open communication between students and professors. "It was good to hear the professors talking to each other," Presley said.

Potts and other students thought the forum was effective. She said, "I hoped that they would get a sense of economic issues and an appreciation for the professors in this informal learning opportunity."

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