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t n i r P e u l B CAMPUS

SUMMER

: a m a b O serving

2012

o i t c e l E 2 The 201

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Economy e th d in h ty Be The Reali • g n li u rt R reme Cou p u S e h T re • Health Ca d n a ts n e Stud

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FROM THE EDITOR

AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE AND STUDENTS

THE SUPREME COURT ON HEALTH CARE

04 06

Dear Readers, In his farewell speech, George Washington warned the citizens of America about the dangers of splitting into two opposing political parties. Yet it seems that as time goes on, we continue to split ourselves further and further. Today, we find ourselves hotly divided on almost every issue – from healthcare to gay marriage, from economic practices to military presence in foreign countries. And while some of these issues, which saturate our minds daily, might seem to pale in comparison to the greatly divisive issues of the past, they matter greatly to all of us. We all have our ideals for America’s future, and we’re all sure that we know what is best for our fellow citizens. In this issue, we cover two of the bigger issues at stake in this election – the future of American health care, and the future of our economy. It might serve as a refresher for some, an eye-opener for others, or a topic of debate for a few. But no matter which way you lean on political spectrum, I urge everyone to cast a vote this November. If we cannot honor George Washington’s warnings, we should at least honor our right to play a role in our country’s future. Happy reading! Carey Hanlin Editor-in-Chief 2  • SUMMER2012

THE REALITY BEHIND THE AILING ECONOMY

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On the Cover: “Color Study Oil” by Charlotte Lindemanis

STAFF carey hanlin editor-in-chief molly hrudka assistant editor sarah edwards, wilson parker, troy homesley managing editors

cari jeffries, tyler tran photo editors michael dickson, hayley fahey, molly hrudka, carey hanlin, akhil jariwala, audrey ann lavallee, ellen murray, rachel myrick, jennifer nowicki, wilson parker, libby rodenbough, luda shtessel, grace tatter, neha verma, kyle villemain, peter vogel, kelly yahner staff writers cassie mcmillan, jasmine lamb, janie sircey, paige warmus production and design anne brenneman, michael dickson, cari jeffries, wilson hood, grace tatter, peter vogel, kelly yahner copy editors katie coleman, gihani dissanayake, izaak earnhardt, sarah hoehn, rodrigo martinez, hannah nemer, janie sircey, renee sullender, tyler tran photographers

rachel allen, cynthia betubiza, sarah brown, michael dickson, hayley fahey, wilson hood, sam hughes, akhil jariwala janna jung-irrgang, jennifer nowicki, wilson parker, grace phillips, sarah rutherford, ellen werner, akhil jariwala, neha verma, bloggers travis clayton social media director

CONTENTS Students and Health Care The Supreme Court Ruling Infographic: The Mandate The Reality Behind the Economy

4 6 7 8


ELECTION 2012 Mitt

Gary

ROMNEY

JOHNSON

Republican

YOUR

Libertarian

Jill

Barack

STEIN

OBAMA

Green Party

Democrat

OTE COUNTS SUMMER2012  • 3    PHOTOS FROM WIKIMEDIA COMMONS


Health Care

STUDENT HEALTH Why Affordable Health Care is Essential for College Students note the driver’s license plate, and had no idea what the car even looked like, aside from its enormous silver bumper. And I was left on the sidewalk with several gashes and a bum right leg, with no promise of insurance coverage from the driver who hit me. Yet I consider myself lucky. My parents are both employed with good health insurance, and I’m listed on their plan. JENN NOWICKI But as a college student, five months later, I am still trying to figure out how uch of the media has focused on to pay the nearly $500 bill I received how the Affordable Care Act, the from the hospital. And this was already centerpiece of President Obama’s dodown from the $3000 bill before the inmestic policy initiatives, will affect the surance stepped in. elderly and those at risk for costly ailI’m also lucky that my injuries turned ments such as cancer. Yet few have foout to be relatively mild—no broken cused on how the law will impact the bones or need for years of intensive core demographic of those who helped therapy. However I was still encumput Obama in the Oval Office—young bered with various prescriptions for college students. pain management, antibiotics for This is especially unfortunate considthe dozens of cuts and scrapes, and ering how many of us are already facmonths’ worth of medications to help ing precarious financial conrepair the tissue damage in straints due to skyrocketing my right leg. The problem is that we can’t always tuition, scarce job prospects, And it made me wonder predict when a health issue will arise. about all those students and a dog-eat-dog world of for-profit insurance compawho aren’t as fortunate as I nies that makes procuring am when it comes to healthhealthcare incredibly difficult. Though window—if I was all right. In shock from care coverage, or who have medical we may feel like we are at the peak in the surprise of being hit and the power- ailments far worse (and more expenour lives—strong, confident, and ready ful pain radiating up from my right calf, sive) than anything I’ve ever had to go to take on our respective academic I answered “I think so”, and took a brief through. fields—we sometimes fail to realize glance at my injured leg. When I turned Not everyone’s parents have jobs in that our health can vanish in an instant. back to further address the driver, he this economy. Others are employed, Take my example. On a bright after- was gone. but their companies don’t offer full innoon in early February, I biked down The entire ordeal took no more than surance. Still others may have a plan, South Columbia Street, cursing the dis- thirty seconds. I hadn’t even thought to but can’t afford the up-front deductible.

M

4  • SUMMER2012

tance between the FedEx Global Center and practically every other building around campus. I was hoping to make my second back-to-back interview of the day on time, and had a grand total of five minutes to get to Jack Sprat’s. It was doable challenge if I managed to make all the crosswalks, and thankfully came to the South Columbia-Cameron intersection to find 14 seconds left on the signal. I slowed down and thought I made sufficient eye-contact with nearby drivers before I entered the street, but found both my legs pinned under a large silver bumper moments later. A driver on Cameron had both failed to stop completely for the crosswalk signal and look to his left before attempting a quick turn onto South Columbia, and I happened to be directly in his path as he revved up his accelerator. After I crawled out from under the bumper and limped to the sidewalk, the driver asked me—through his car


PHOTO FROM WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Countries with Universal Healthcare (>90% social coverage) Countries with a Mandate (but <90% social coverage) And then there are the students who are trekking out their college experience alone, with no one to look out for them in the event of an emergency. This leaves thousands of students across the country without a way to care for themselves should they become severely sick or injured. The problem is that we can’t always predict when a health issue will arise. It may begin with a nagging pain in the side, or a throbbing headache that gets worse and worse. Sometimes there are no symptoms at all until our bodies start to shut down. Even the most health-conscious student can be blindsided by an unforeseeable accident, or some genetic time bomb. As college students, we are especially prone to ignoring symptoms under the pressure of exams and other life stresses. And because of this, we need to be both prepared and proactive with our health. Yet so many of my friends have put off going to the doctor because they can’t afford the co-pays or deductibles. Others haven’t filled years’ worth of prescriptions because a) insurance doesn’t

cover it or b) insurance covers some of it, but it’s still too expensive. This leaves them more vulnerable to future maladies because precautions weren’t, and in many cases financially couldn’t, be met. The financial aspect is a huge part of why sufficient healthcare coverage is so important for people our age, and not just for the impact it has in the present. If a chronic health issue starts when we are young, it adds more time that we have to pay premiums, co-pays, prescription renewals, and other out of pocket expenses over the course of our lifetime. Add to all this to the fact that the average college student today has over $25,000 in debt upon graduation. Healthcare costs will only become an extra burden, which is something no one wants to deal with when delving into the professional, independent stage of life.  And this doesn’t even address the possibility of coverage denial due to preexisting conditions that can spring up during college.  Without the Affordable Care Act, such cases would

leave students without any direction to turn. It seems unfair that we might get saddled with such exorbitant costs when we are just finding our footing in the world. We’re so young and in the prime of our lives, our futures so bright, and we feel like we shouldn’t have to worry about our health with so many other stresses that we have to deal with. Maybe we’re overly optimistic about our chances of emerging from college unscathed, part of the invincibility fantasy that afflicts the youth. But we have to remember that if we do get sick, insurance companies are not altruistic—if they can avoid doling out coverage to inflate their bottom line, chances are they will. The Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect, but it’s a start–one that can be amended to better fit the needs of our country in the years to come. And access to affordable health care is welcome news in a volatile world where 30 seconds might be all it takes for your health to crumble. •

SUMMER2012  • 5   


HEALTH CARE CONSTITUTIONAL Supreme Court upholds Affordable Care Act WILSON PARKER

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arlier this month, the Supreme Court The court’s four liberal judges filed a con- powers of Congress even as he upheld its announced its ruling on the constitu- curring opinion, arguing that the mandate most recent legislative action. tionality of the Affordable Care Act, one should have been upheld under the ausOn the left, the decision has also reof its most important decisions in recent pices of the Interstate Commerce Clause. ceived a mixed response. Many on the left memory. Ginsburg and Sotomayor also filed an- greeted the decision as a success, includIn a 5-4 decision, the court held that the other concurring opinion, but disagreed ing President Obama, who described it as bill’s penalty for every American who does with the court’s decision to invalidate the “a victory for people all over this country.” not purchase health insurance – better Medicaid funding provision. However, Neal Catyal, former Obama adknown as the individual mandate – was The decision of Justice Roberts to join ministration Solicitor General, called the constitutional. In a surprise to many spec- the liberal wing of the court came as a sur- case a “pyrrhic victory.” In his New York tators and analysts, Chief Justice Roberts prise to many observers. According to the Times op-ed, Catyal expressed the concern joined the court’s four liberal justices in the New York Times, the Roberts court has is- that the limitation on Congress’s ability to majority. Writing the opinion conditionalize state funding of the court, Roberts rejected would jeopardize important Justice Roberts, however, had never the Obama administration’s before joined the liberal wing in such a legislative proposals, including argument that the mandate the Elementary and Secondary closely divided case. is constitutional as a regulaEducation Act and Family Edution under the Interstate Comcation and Right to Privacy Act merce Clause, instead choosing to view it sued more than 100 5-4 decisions. In those (better known as FERPA). as an exercise of Congress’ power to im- decisions, Anthony Kennedy, the usual According to Catyal, the court’s decision pose taxes. swing vote, has joined the liberal wing threatened the dynamic nature of the While the court upheld the mandate, it 25 times. Justices Thomas and Scalia, two Constitution. Catyal wrote: “The court eminvalidated a section of the bill that gave of the courts most conservative justices, ployed language that could be read to the federal government permission to had both joined the liberal justices twice suggest that whenever statutes are novel, withdraw Medicaid funding from states in 5-4 decisions. Justice Roberts, however, they are unconstitutional. This atextual that do not comply with the bill’s require- had never before joined the liberal wing in reading of the Constitution, odd for “strict ments. The federal government will have such a closely divided case. constructionists,” may later blossom into a power, however, to make the new MedicWhile Roberts’ decision has been criti- radical constitutional theory that could upaid funding authorized by the bill condi- cized by some on the right – Glenn Beck is end decades, if not centuries, of precedent, tional on the basis of its requirements. selling t-shirts that label Roberts a “cow- going all the way back to Chief Justice John The court’s four conservative judges filed ard” and Rush Limbaugh has incorrectly Marshall’s famous opinion in the 1819 a dissenting opinion which argued that described the ruling as “the largest tax case McCulloch v. Maryland, which spoke the entire law should have been struck increase in the history of the world”  – it of a flexible, adaptable Constitution.” down. Economist Brad DeLong argued has also been praised by several influenUltimately, this decision will have serious that the language of their dissent sug- tial commentators, including David Brooks implications for future Commerce Clause gests that Roberts had originally joined and George Will. Will and Brooks have cel- and Spending Clause jurisprudence. In the them in a majority, but changed his mind. ebrated Roberts’ decisions as an example near term, however, the unwillingness of While the evidence is difficult to ignore, his of judicial restraint, and Will also praised the court to strike down the Affordable claim cannot be substantiated at this time. Roberts for articulating and limiting the Care Act has made its repeal very unlikely. •

6  • SUMMER2012


The Mandate: Conccurence and Dissent

Stephen Breyer

Samuel Alito

PHOTO FROM WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Sonia Sotomayor

Elena Kegan

Clarence Thomas

Chief Justice John G. Roberts

Antonin Scalia

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Anthony Kennedy SUMMER2012  • 7   


Economy

BIG MONEY The Reality Behind the Ailing Economy CAREY HANLIN

A

merica is struggling.  According to the be blamed for economic downturn, and ton’s administration was poised to begin CIA World Fact Book, we rank 169th in there isn’t a single idea that will work erasing the national debt which, at the GDP growth rate but 6th in obesity, 1st to fix it.  All that is obvious today is that time,  approximated $5.6 trillion.  Data in in imports but 3rd in exports.  15.1% of we have two presidential candidates a report published by the Congressional our population lives below the poverty who have vastly different economic poli- Budget Office suggests that Clinton-era line.  As a percentage of GDP, we rank cies.  Whether one candidate will help budget policies (PAYGO) and taxes on 23rd in military expenditures but only the economy flourish while the other the upper class would eventually have 44th in education expenditures.  We will ruin it completely is doubtful.  But led to a budget surplus of approximately have the highest incarceration rate in our past can tell us what works and $5.6 trillion dollars by 2011, effectively the world, and we spend more than what doesn’t, what booms the economy paying off the entire US debt. twice as much per prisoner than we do and what ultimately dooms it. But when President Bush assumed per student.  And on top of all of that, office, policy changed.  One of Bush’s we are the world’s leading consumer in A Growing Deficit planks during his 2000 campaign was cocaine, Columbian heroin, and Mexican In 1990, George H. W. Bush enacted that federal surpluses were better off marijuana. the “Pay As You Go” (or PAYGO) policy returned to the people in the form of And now we’re broke.  We have a na- as part of his Budget Enforcement Act tax cuts, rather than remaining with the tional debt climbing toward $16 trillion, of 1990.  According to the policy, gov- federal government where the money and more than 8% of us are out of a ernment spending and tax cuts had to could be spent by congress.  In 2001, job.  Gas prices are high and stock mar- be offset by tax hikes or reductions in the senate passed President Bush’s $1.3 ket confidence is low.  And it’s obvious spending.  In simpler terms, if the gov- trillion plan to lower taxes by 3-5% for to any savvy republican that all incomes.  Previously, such President Obama is to blame a hefty tax cut would have At the end of his presidency, Bill for it all, just as it’s obvious Clinton’s administration was poised to been offset by spending cuts, to any savvy democrat that but when PAYGO officially exerase the national debt... President Bush actually bears pired in 2002, the republicanthe weight.  Because  we all controlled Congress did not need to believe in one single source of ernment wanted to use money, it had renew it and even admitted that Bush’s our economic misfortunes, in the hope to use money that was already avail- Medicare extension plan, which was esthat impeachments and repeals can re- able.  With its tighter control over gov- timated at the time to cost over $400 verse all that has been done and put us ernment spending, PAYGO ultimately billion, would fail to meet PAYGO stanon top once more. played a large role in the subsequent dards. But the economy is not that sim- Clinton-era surplus. But as the unfinanced tax cuts and ple.  There isn’t a single person that can At the end of his presidency, Bill Clin- Medicare extensions dug a financial

8  • SUMMER2012


GRAPH BY CAREY HANLIN DATA FROM PRESIDENTIALDEBT.ORG, TAX POLICY CENTER

+ Tax Cuts

*Tax Hikes

The graph above shows the relative year-to-year changes in the national debt, per capita. As the Reagan-era and Bush-era show, unfunded tax cuts are highly correlated with spikes in the rate of increase in the US deficit.

hole, the Bush-era wars dug it much deeper.  Following the 2001 terrorist attacks, the United States began its War on Terror against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.  Between 2001 and 2007, the war expanded to include separate operations in Afghanistan (The War in Afghanistan), the Philippines (Operation Freedom Eagle), the Horn of Africa, the Sahara, Pakistan, and Yemen, all of which are still ongoing.  In 2003, the US also entered the Iraq War, which lasted until 2011, as well as the second Liberian Civil War. By 2008, the Bush administration had garnered an additional $5.5 trillion in debt.  According to information gathered by presidentialdeb.org from the census bureau and the BEA, the national debt growth rate jumped in 2008 from 6% to 16%, a rate unseen since Ronald Reagan’s second term, and still untouched

by the Obama administration.  The fate of the American economy was sealed that year when the global financial crisis, bank failures, and collapse of the real estate market pushed the world into the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.   The Bureau of Economic Analysis now reports that the economy shrank by 8.9 percent during the final three months alone of Bush’s presidency, and data from the St. Louis Federal Reserve shows that manufacturing plummeted between 2001 and 2008.  In October of 2008, the Bush administration attempted to strengthen the public sector through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which allowed the government to bail out financial institutions.  But TARP was criticized from both sides for helping banks more than protecting citizens.

The Obama Administration By the time Barack Obama took office, the national debt had risen to approximately $11 trillion.  Shortly after taking office, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a stimulus package aimed at creating jobs to bring America out of its recession.   The stimulus, which cost an estimated $831 billion, was decried by many conservative opponents as the harbinger of ruin for the financial future of all subsequent generations.  Obama’s fiscal liberalism was pushed to the forefront of the media, while Bush’s fiscal liberalism was quietly ignored.   However, in an article published by The New York Times in 2009, acclaimed economist Paul Krugman insisted that the stimulus actually suffered from too SUMMER2012  • 9   


much conservatism.  Krugman asserted indicate a higher spending rate under imated a deficit reduction, rather than that while few economists agree on the Obama, a closer analysis proves differ- addition, of $1.3 trillion by 2029, thanks adequacy of the plan, many agreed that ently. to eventual savings and taxes that exist “political considerations led to a plan According to a report published by the within the bill.  Blahous’ argument rests that was weaker and contains more tax Eisenhower Study Group, the wars in on the notion that Medicare, which has cuts than it should have – that Mr. Obama Afghanistan and Iraq cost an estimated been experiencing high expenditures compromised in advance in the hope of $3.2 trillion through 2011, and are pro- since the implementation of Medicare gaining broad bipartisan support.”  Krug- jected to cost upward of $4 trillion.  Now, Part D under the Bush administration, man felt that the plan was too small to assuming war costs are evenly distribut- will deplete its trust fund by 2016, but properly offset the mounting debt, while ed per year, and haven’t increased as for- that PPACA will keep it going until 2024, other economists felt that, if left unfund- eign occupation has increased, we can resulting in a dramatic net increase in ed, too large of a stimulus would actu- estimate a minimum of $1 trillion spent spending.  Critics like Paul Krugman ally negatively affect confidence in the on defense per presidential term, mean- point out, however, that even if Blahous private sector. ing a minimum of that amount since is right about his estimate, he is wrong In early 2010, President Obama signed Obama took office in 2009.  To this day, in assuming that congress would allow into law the Patient Protection and Af- defense makes up the largest portion Medicare to dissolve in 2016, meaning fordable Care Act (PPACA), which, among of US federal expenditures comprising Medicare costs would be present regardother things, requires most adults to 24% of the total budget each year. less of health care reform.     maintain health insurance coverage, On top of the wars, the Bush-era tax So is Obama a big spender?  Accordprovides tax credits to people earning cuts have added even more to the deficit ing to an analysis published by Market below the poverty line, and more closely under both presidents.  According to an Watch, President Obama has actually regulates the health insurance indus- article published by the New York Times presided over the lowest growth in fedtry in order to protect patients. The bill, last year, the Bush tax cuts are estimated eral spending since the 1950s.  A sepawhich seeks to cover 30 million previ- to have cost $1.8 trillion through 2009. rate analysis by Presidentialdebt.org ously uninsured Americans provides a more conservative but has recently played a role estimate, but both sources But as the unfinanced tax cuts and in raising the annual health indicate that Ronald Reagan Medicare extensions dug a financial care budget, met with conand George W. Bush have actroversy from conservatives, tually presided over the highhole, the Bush-era wars dug it who argued that the govest deficit growth rates of much deeper. ernment could not legally any president in at least the mandate US citizens to buy last forty years. health care.   The Congressional Budget Office estiIn March of this year, the case was mates that if the tax cuts were extended What Doesn’t Work brought to the Supreme Court, and the through 2020, they would cost an adWhichever way you cut it, America is mandate was found constitutional.  But ditional $3.3 trillion.  Originally, the tax clearly struggling.  We desperately need that hasn’t stopped House republicans, cuts merely ate into federal surpluses, to see progress and improvements in who have attempted 31 times to have it but when those surpluses ran out, the many aspects of American infrastructure, repealed, in an effort to increase public cuts began to seep into the national def- economy, academia, and workforce.  But uncertainty about the bill.   icit.  This month, Obama officially called at the same time, we are accumulating a for a final one-year extension to the un- terrifying amount of debt, and economic Is Obama A Big Spender? funded tax cuts for the middle class only, confidence is at an all time low.  But is In the last 12 years, the US deficit has and then an end to them altogether.   it possible to fix what is broken, which grown from $5.6 trillion to approximateBut what about health care re- takes money, while also saving monly $15.8 trillion.  Of that change, approxi- form?  Earlier this year, conservative ey?  PAYGO, which counterbalanced mately $5.4 trillion was added during economist Charles Blahous estimated spending with appropriate austerity the Bush administration, while $4.8 tril- that PPACA would add approximately measures, worked during the Clinton lion has been added under the Obama $340 billion to the federal deficit, while administration, but with costs of health administration.  But while that seems to the Congressional Budget Office approx- care and defense rising, it’s difficult to 10  • SUMMER2012


PHOTO FROM CENTER ON BUDGET AND POLICY PRIORITIES

say whether or not it would be as effective today. Proponents of immediate austerity measures claim that economic growth can only occur by biting the bullet and cutting federal spending while lowering taxes on the upper class, even if that means raising taxes for the lower classes. But where does the money for tax cuts come from? They say that such fiscal contraction will lead to higher confidence in the public sector, leading to greater spending and an improved market.  What they fail to realize, however, is that the private sector is not the only slice of the economic pie.  Government spending is a huge contributor in the consumption of American goods and services.  A study by the New York Times showed that a federal spending cut equivalent to 1 percent of the nation’s economic output can actually reduce GDP by about 1.5 percent.  So, contrary to claims made by austerity proponents, spending cuts actually decrease GDP growth. So what about tax cuts?  Do they work?  It all depends on who the tax cuts help.  It is no coincidence that proposed austerity measures generally include reductions in benefits and services provided by the government (such as Medicaid or food stamps) as well as tax cuts for the upper class (who don’t need such benefits or services).  This isn’t “austerity” in the true sense – it’s a codling of the rich, by the rich. Republican excuse for such codling hearkens back to Reagan era “Trickle Down Economics” – the idea that tax breaks to the rich will have a “trickledown” effect that will help the lower classes through the creation of new jobs, goods, and services.  But this economic policy has consistently failed because the lower classes are left unable to pay for goods and services, and because the upper class often spend such

transient tax cuts not on American job creation, but on outsourced jobs, or on bloated pay increases for top CEOs. The American upper class comprises somewhere between 1% and 2% of all American citizens, meaning that the other 98% fall into lower class, middle class, and upper middle class.  Statistically, the upper class spends more on luxury goods while the lower and middle classes spend more combined on general goods and services.  Consumption of luxury goods does boost the economy, but during an economic downturn, it can also lead to credit-card debt, because those that are used to luxury goods are less willing to part with them when times get tough. But what about tax cuts to the lower and middle class, which are less capable of coping with tax hikes?  Statistically,

Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck are less likely to spend money and are more likely to save if they can help it, because they know they will need it later on.  Further taxation of the lower class doesn’t make sense because they already face significant difficulties in paying for necessary goods and services.  Taking away government-provided services only further disables spending for the lower class, and ultimately leads to higher levels of homelessness.   This isn’t a battle cry for socialism.  It is not an attempt to even out the socioeconomic classes; rather, it is an attempt to slow the rapidly growing differences between them.  According to data collected by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the poor carry a heavier tax burden than the rich in every state save Vermont.  While the rich currently SUMMER2012  • 11   


PHOTO FROM WIKIMEDIA COMMONS President Obama speaking about his American Jobs Act, one of his proposals to help turn the economy around.

pay as much as 35% in income taxes, the lower classes must carry the burden of social security, Medicare, and other payroll taxes. And it doesn’t help that the wage gap is growing wider by the year.  Between 1990 and 2009, the gap between the median American wage and mean American wage grew by almost 40%, according to data collected by the Social Security Medicare Tax Database.  The heavy rise in average wage compared to median wage indicates a growing skew in the data caused by rising wages for workers at the top and shrinking wages for workers at the bottom.  And according to Willamette Week, this trend began with the advent of Reagan era trickle-down economics. This is not to say that austerity measures are bad.  After all, the Pay As You Go policy helped create surpluses during the Clinton administration.  But extreme austerity measures including cessations in government spending as well as raises in tax cuts for the rich, won’t do anything to help a struggling economy. Romney vs. Obama Mitt Romney has based much of his campaign on the notion that President

12  • SUMMER2012

Obama has been fiscally irresponsible, and that a more fiscally responsible president is necessary to turn the economy around.  But is Romney actually that fiscally responsible? An analysis by CNNMoney predicts that Romney’s defense plan will increase the Pentagon’s base budget from 3.5% of GDP to 4% of GDP, adding an estimated $2.3 trillion in additional spending within the next decade. In addition, Romney would decrease the income tax rate across all brackets.  It sounds tempting, but where does that money come from?  According to The Political Guide, Romney’s plan is to cap government spending at 20%.  With his additional military spending, that means a decrease in spending rates from other sections of the US economy, be they health care, education, or government programs aimed at assisting the poor.   According to economist Paul Krugman, approximately two-thirds of Romney’s proposed cuts come at the expense of low-income Americans.  Earlier this year, Romney even told CNN that he is “not concerned about the very poor” because of government safety nets – safety nets that he blasted earlier in the year having

too much overhead to warrant their cost.  Essentially, Mitt Romney is proposing to continue the same doctrine that President Bush upheld – a doctrine that swallowed up federal surpluses and crippled the American economy at a time when it was crucial that it be strong. Is that to say that Mitt Romney would ruin the economy while Barack Obama would save it?  Again, it is not so simple.  But the concept that President Obama has presided over nothing but low growth, high unemployment, and low market confidence is preposterous.  Manufacturing jobs have increased under Obama, following a sharp decline during the entire Bush presidency.  And the Dow is rising steadily since its severe dip during the 2009 stock market crash.  In fact, at ~12,700, it has almost completely rebounded back from an all time low of less than 7000 in early 2009, to its all time high of ~14,000 from late 2007. America’s future still faces uncertainty.  We can return to the top once more, but it will take progress, which means sacrifices of some sort, on some side.   Our past has shown us what does work and what doesn’t, and we should look to it to see where we must go from here. •


Published with support from: Campus Progress, a division of the Center for American Progress. Campus Progress works to help young people — advocates, activists, journalists, artists — make their voices heard on issues that matter. Learn more at CampusProgress.org This publication was funded at least in part by Student Fees which were appropriated and dispersed by the Student Government at UNC Chapel Hill.

Campus BluePrint is a non-partisan student publication that aims to provide a forum for open

dialogue on progressive ideals at UNC-Chapel Hill and in the greater community. SUMMER2012  • 13   


Summer 2012  

Summer 2012 Issue of Campus BluePrint Magazine - UNC's progressive magazine.

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