Union University

Union University Department of Political Science

Department of Political Science


Union Hosts Political Debate

Oct 28, 2008

Last night, Union hosted a debate for students and the community in the Carl Grant Events Center. David Johnson and Steve Maroney, the Madison County Democratic and Republican Party chairs, debated the issues and made the case for Barack Obama and John McCain for president. The moderator for the debate was local talk radio and channel 6 tv host Steve Bowers.

The debate started with the current housing crisis. Maroney said the cause was Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and it could have been prevented if Democrats did not kill regulations Republicans favored. Johnson said the cause was deregulation. He likened deregulation to going down the interstate with no speed limit. You need regulations on speed to keep everyone safe and you need regulations on business to prevent disasters.

Next, they discussed taxes. Maroney accused Obama of wanting to spread the wealth and damaging the prospects of small businessmen like Joe the Plumber. Johnson responded that he agreed with John McCain in 2001 when he said the Bush tax cuts favored the wealthy and that the middle class would get three times the tax cuts under Obama's plan than McCain's.

Turning to the deficit, Johnson claimed that Obama would pay for everything with spending cuts while Maroney said that McCain's tax plans would grow the economy so tax revenue would grow to pay for his plans.

On education, Maroney said that McCain favors more competition in schools because where competition happens, it works. He likened it to having a lawn mowing business when he was young. He had to compete with others for jobs and that made him do better. In the same way, schools would have to improve. Johnson claimed that Obama would fully fund No Child Left Behind but change the assessment procedure so that teachers don't teach to the test.

On the Second Amendment, Johnson said that Obama will protect an individual's right to bear arms but that he would retrict guns that fire 300 rounds a minute and cop killer bullets because they have no place in a decent society. Maroney countered that Obama's support for the 2nd Amendment was questionable because when presented with opportunities to defend it in the IL state legislature, he voted present. Maroney then talked about the need for a strict interpretation of the constitution and how it would promote gun rights and prevent activist judges.

On unionization, Johnson, a former electrical worker and union member, favored the Free Choice act which would allow workers to sign a card and when 50% of workers did so, a union would form. Unions are not like corporations which can call everyone together and explain why they should not join one. Unions have to go door to door so this rights the balance more. Maroney responded that this would allow union bosses to intimidate workers to join a union and that the law is undemocratic because it takes away the secret ballot vote on whether to unionize or not.

On health care, Maroney claimed that the US has the best health care quality and delivery in the world and that Obama wants to move toward a more government run system where government officials decide who gets what treatment based on how much money the government has to spend on health care. Johnson said that Obama's plan alllows you to keep your insurance if you like it, not have insurance, or join the federal system and get health care like Obama and McCain. Moreover, McCain's tax credit would provide the money 12 months after buying health care and would not help buy it. Moreover, it is not indexed to inflation so that as health care costs, which grow faster than inflation, increase, the value of the tax credit would decline forcing people to drop health care.

On the right to privacy, Johnson said that his wife opposes it but it is no one else's business whether a female chooses to terminate a pregnancy but the female and her doctor. Maroney countered that McCain was solidly pro-life and that Obama is radical on abortion because he even voted against the Infant Born Alive act which would have requried medical attention to fetuses that survive an abortion. Johnson countered that Obama opposed it because it was a political bill designed to embarrass pro-choice legislators since a bill from the 1970s already provided that protection.

In foreign policy, Maroney said that Obama's opposition to the surge and saying that he would still oppose it knowing its success today shows he does not have the judgment to be president. Johnson said that the Bush Administratin is negotiating a status of forces agreement with the Iraqis which calls for a US withdrawel by 2011 just like the Obama plan. He said that the Iraqis must solve their problems and that we cannot solve them for him.

On energy, Johnson said that Obama supports nuclear and alternative energy sources and that under Obama, people will be driving electric cars in no time. He even said how he use to drive one when he lived in DC but the problem was that it did not have a long battery life. Maroney said that he was glad Johnson said Obama supported nuclear because that is the safe, cheap alternative today. Maroney also favored drilling in ANWR and off the sea coast to reduce our dependence on foriegn oil. Johnson countered that drilling will take 6-10 years to hit the market and that Bush had 8 years to remove the ban on off shore drilling and just did it around election time for political reasons.

The debate ended with a discissiof race and how the nomination and potential election of Obama is an affirming story that should make everyone feel good about the progress that America has made in race relations.