October 27 marked a big day for two clubs that are new to East Providence High School. The formation of the Young Democrats and The Teenage Republican clubs has caused a stir at EPHS over the last year, and for the first time, the two organizations participated in a debate. The debate, which was held in Room A9 after school, lasted over one hour. It was the first of many planned debates on important issues our country faces such as jobs, unemployment and health care.
Today’s debate covered the broad topic of taxes. It is widely accepted that the Republican belief is that taxes should not be raised. On the contrary, Democrats generally believe that taxation is necessary to work towards fixing the economy and eliminating government debt. Based on what is in the news and what you here every day, the current state of our faltering economy is a hot button topic. Both Republicans and Democrats believe that action must be taken before our economy is pushed beyond the point of no repair. The issue is how to do this.
Today’s debate started off on a patriotic note with the Pledge of Allegiance. Immediately following this act of respect toward the United States, Mr. Anderson, the faculty advisor to the Teenage Republicans read a list of rules.
“Be respectful, allow others to talk, and try to learn something,” Mr. Anderson said.
The Young Democrats (guests of the teenage Republicans at this debate) opened the proceedings. They started off their argument by addressing the issue of companies going overseas. The Democrats made the point that raising taxes promotes job growth in big companies.
K.J. Staley of the Young Democrats said, “It makes the companies think – okay this is a burden we have to eliminate it by creating jobs and more eco-friendly work environments to receive tax breaks.”
Domenic Leonardo of the Teenage Republicans rebutted the argument.
“Higher tax rates are just an incentive for companies to send there business overseas to save money. In sending them overseas more and more American jobs are being lost,” he said.
The arguments continued to include the issue of tax breaks. The Republicans stated that the rich are already paying enough. They should not be forced to pay anymore since they are contributing the most.
The Democrats countered this with the argument (based on charts they possessed on data of distribution of Americans money) that the rich should pay more on the grounds that they are making the most money. As it stands now the Democrats believe the ratios are unfair.
“The majority of the time, the rich are not paying these high rates because they are receiving government tax cuts anyway,” said Matt Kleyla of the Young Democrats.
As the tax debate heated up, both sides raised some very interesting points. Both sides found common ground in agreeing that before raising, or not raising taxes, the tax loopholes must be eliminated.
“We have to stop letting the big corporations get away with tax breaks like they did under Bush,” said Kleyla.
The Republicans appeared to be in general agreement with this.
As the debate continued, it started to appear as if both sides were just wandering in circles. More and more off topic statements were thrown into an already volatile debate. The Republicans seemed a little unprepared when the Democrats began throwing out facts. The validity of these facts however were questioned by several members of the Republicans. On a few occasions the debate had to be halted to bring the participants back on track from what appeared to be splitting hairs when it came down to the facts. Both the Republicans and Democrats began using generalized statements that did not back up there points.
When the topic of the rich paying their fair share was addressed, Domenic Leonardo said, “I don’t see the problem with the rich getting richer. Everyone has the right to make money.”
To this, K.J Staley responded, “The problem with the rich getting richer is that everyone else is just staying, all the common people are just staying common or the people in poverty are staying in poverty.”
In a rebuttal, Leonardo questioned Mr. Staley’s statement. “Are you saying it is the rich who are responsible for bring the common people up? Because poor people don’t create jobs, the wealthy do.”
Nuno Silva, of the Democrat then stated, “I believe the ones who create the most jobs are the small businesses, the middle class.”
Leonardo retorted, “Look at Wal-Mart, they’re the biggest employer in the world.”
As the debate began to reach a conclusion, it was easy to tell that while both sides came readily prepared, neither side came open minded. Both stuck to their guns in a venerable manner but it was a common agreement among spectators that the only way the economic crisis can be fixed is for both parties to begin working together.
After the debate, members of the audience were interviewed about their opinion of the performance of both groups. Chris Licata said, “The Democrats seem to be more prepared. Some of the Republican arguments seemed to be off topic and off base.”
Licata also stated, however, that both the Democrats and Republicans stated legitimate arguments equally. “They very well supported with facts, charts, graphs,” he said.
The Debate closed with both sides summing up their stance on the issue of tax reform. The Democrats, agreed that taxes must be raised once a plan for reform to close loopholes is in place, while the Republicans agreeing that raising taxes will only hurt our struggling citizens and economy more.
After the debate, Domenic Leonardo of the Teenage Republicans stated, “The Democrats came well equipped with a lot of information regarding tax policy and I felt they were well prepared.”
Young Democrats advisor, Mr. Silva, said “The Republicans came more prepared then I expected. I think we both made a lot of generalized statements that weren’t backed up by data the right way. We all brought in a lot of evidence but we didn’t utilize it to our full advantage. We were using the evidence to benefit in our own manner at that very moment and were overlooking the big picture.”
Matt Kleyla of the Young Democrats said, “A major issue was that we all went in with a one track mind. Both we and the Republicans went in without any intention of accepting each other’s ideas.”
Over all the debate was a very interesting one. Both sides made very good points. As the debates continue throughout the year, the debate skills of both the Young Democrats and the Teenage Republicans will increase. Both groups will continue to address important topics and hopefully bring political awareness to EPHS.