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Young Democrats and College Republicans talk economy, health care at annual debate

The Young Democrats and the College Republicans had a lively debate Monday evening, moderated by members of The Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies. Peter McClelland of the College Republicans

The annual debate between UNC’s Young Democrats and College Republicans reflected recurring themes of the national presidential race — including the economy.

“First and foremost, the economy is a concern to people,” said Austin Gilmore, president of the UNC Young Democrats.

More than 80 people gathered Monday night in Howell Hall to watch the polarized student political groups debate some of the nation’s current issues.

The debate was moderated by the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies.

College Republicans chairman Garrett Jacobs, a debate participant, explained that the economy and its effects on tuition, budget cuts and the job market are relevant to all students.

“For current students, the policies about how to fund universities — what the money goes to in terms of research or financial aid — have the biggest impact,” Jacobs said.

Another of the debate topics was health care policy, with both sides in staunch disagreement.

The Young Democrats said President Barack Obama’s health care plan is a step forward, as it will provide coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans.

But the College Republicans said government should have no role in mandating health care coverage.

The groups also differed in their stances on who should handle student loan defaults.

The College Republicans called for a return of student loan policy to private companies, while the Young Democrats applauded the government for intervening in loan policy.

According to the Young Democrats, the average student graduates with $25,000 in loans.

But the groups found a consensus on several topics.

Both sides promoted lowering the federal debt by broadening the tax base through lowering tax rates and eliminating loopholes.

They agreed that the Bowles-Simpson Plan, which would curtail federal spending in the next 10 years, is an effective way to reduce the federal debt.

“They agreed on a lot more things than I thought they were going to,” said Charlotte Fare, a freshman who attended the debate.

Junior Ralph Young also attended the debate: “It’s good to come to listen to both sides give their opinions and beliefs,” he said.

Gilmore said the main goal of the debate was to inform students of current national issues. He hopes the debate offered a clear presentation of the parties’ stances, allowing students to think critically about the ideas.

“Education is the only way people are going to be informed and have a say in the world around them,” he said.

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