The Issues: Terrorism, Environment, Gay Marriage, Health Care

Terrorism What’s at stake: The Iraq war has proved to be longer than the Civil War and American involvement in World War I and World War II. Jim Riddlesperger, professor of political science, said whoever assumes the presidency, for this coming election and succeeding elections, will have a different approach on the war on terrorism. “Terrorism will remain as an ongoing management issue for all U.S. presidents in the foreseeable future,” he said. Riddlesperger also noted that when it comes to this issue, the difference between the United States and other nations is that other countries have been putting up with terrorism for decades while the U.S. started since Sept. 11. Obama says: Obama opposed the war in Iraq, and ending it is one of his top priorities if he assumes the position of commander-in-chief. He believes Afghanistan is the main battleground since al-Qaida operations in that region have increased recently. The New York Times reported Obama that promises to pull troops out of Iraq within 16 months of being inaugurated in 2009. Military experts believe it is possible to withdraw the troops from the region at the rate of one to two brigades a month, enabling the Obama administration to get them out of Iraq by summer of 2010, according to Obama’s Web site. The Illinois senator believes setting a time frame for troop withdrawal would force the Iraqi government to pull itself together and enable the U.S. to send more troops to Afghanistan. Obama said he will leave a limited number of troops in Iraq to continue counterterrorism operations in the region and provide security for American diplomats and personnel. McCain says: McCain believes it is in America’s best interest to help the Iraqi government. As a supporter of the war, the Arizona senator believes if U.S. troops pull out before the Iraqi government can safeguard its own country, Iraq will be a failed state, and the United States will have to return to a bigger and more expensive war. McCain does not agree with Obama’s plan to schedule the withdrawal of the troops because he says al-Qaida in Iraq has not been defeated yet, the Times reported. But McCain projects he will get most of the troops out by 2013. According to the McCain Web site, the United States would risk recently projected gains if it withdrew American troops before Iraq is back on its feet. His campaign also points out that a strategy similar to Obama’s failed when it was used in 2006. Environment What’s at stake: The next president will be attending a conference next year in Denmark with other heads of state, as world leaders continue to work on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol to address the problem of global warming, said Michael Slattery, director of the Institute for Environmental Studies. One of the biggest domestic issues the next administration faces is the nation’s water supply, as infrastructures in major cities are deteriorating and water supplies are dwindling, Slattery said. Reducing carbon footprints and finding renewable energy sources are also major considerations for the next president, Slattery said. Like the previous administration, the next president will have difficulty implementing environmental policy because other issues such as the economy take precedence, but the nation will benefit in the long run, Slattery said. “What people fail to understand is that the planet provides a whole host of goods and services free of charge,” he said. Obama says: According to his campaign Web site, Obama and running mate, Joe Biden, created the New Energy for America plan that, among other things, will invest $150 billion in private efforts for cleaner energy in the next 10 years. At the second presidential debate Oct. 7 in Nashville, Tenn., Obama said he supported finding alternative energy sources, including nuclear power and reducing drilling. “So what that means is that we can’t simply drill our way out of the problem,” Obama said. “And we’re not going to be able to deal with the climate crisis if our only solution is to use more fossil fuels that create global warming. “We’re going to have to come up with alternatives, and that means that the United States government is working with the private sector to fund the kind of innovation that we can then export to countries like China that also need energy and are setting up one coal power plant a week.” McCain says: At the second presidential debate, McCain said he supported nuclear power as an alternate energy source. “I was on Navy ships that had nuclear power plants,” McCain said. “Nuclear power is safe, and it’s clean, and it creates hundreds of thousands of jobs. And I know that we can reprocess the spent nuclear fuel. The Japanese, the British, the French do it. And we can do it, too. “We can move forward and clean up our climate and develop green technologies, and alternate – alternative energies for ­- for hybrid, for hydrogen, for battery-powered cars, so that we can clean up our environment and at the same time get our economy going by creating millions of jobs.” According to his campaign Web site, McCain said he would promote a “cap-and-trade system.” A climate cap-and-trade mechanism would set a limit on greenhouse gas emissions and allow entities to buy and sell rights to emit, similar to the successful acid rain trading program of the early 1990s, according to McCain’s Web site. Gay Marriage What’s a stake: With the definition of marriage, as well as who gets to define it, up for debate, same-sex marriages have the country divided on the separation of church and state. Currently, California, Connecticut and Massachusetts are the only states that legally recognize same-sex marriages. Yet with the country’s economy on a downturn and issues such as the Iraq war taking precedence, some consider that the issue of same-sex marriages is a minimal concern. Jay Adcock, sophomore philosophy major and co-founder of the Philosophy Club, said with so many issues to consider, the topic of same-sex marriage should not be the defining factor in someone’s presidential pick. “It hasn’t affected my decision,” Adcock said. Sophomore philosophy and English major Tyler Hall agrees. “While this is still an issue, it is not one of great importance at this time,” said Hall, co-founder of the Philosophy Club. Shelly Newkirk, vice president of the Gay Straight Alliance and a sophomore social work major, said the election is important in picking a president that will represent the interest of all people. “It’s about more than just marriage,” Newkirk said. “It’s about equality.” Both Adcock and Hall said regardless if same-sex couples are given the right to legal marriages or civil unions, the couples should be allowed to collect their partners’ benefits as long as they are taxed properly. Obama says: Although both candidates oppose same-sex marriages, Obama has stated he is a supporter of broader rights for same-sex couples. Obama said he does support civil unions that give same-sex couples equal legal rights and privileges as married couples. In a 2007 interview with Meet the Press, Obama said he did not believe that being gay or lesbian is a choice. Obama currently opposes California Proposition 8, which looks to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in that state. McCain says: Sen. John McCain has taken a more conservative view on the topic. McCain’s Web site states he believes the institution of marriage is a union between a man and a woman. Yet despite his conservative voting record, in 2004 McCain called the ban of same-sex marriages “un-Republican” and even voted no on a constitutional ban of same-sex marriages. McCain, who currently supports California Proposition 8, has said that he believes same-sex marriages are an issue best left to the states. Health Care What’s at Stake: In a Wall Street Journal-NBC Survey, almost 50 percent of the American public said the cost of health care is the top economic concern, according to National Coalition on Health Care’s Web site. The total spending on health care in 2007 was $2.3 trillion, which is $7,600 per person. Health care spending is predicted to increase at similar rates for the next decade, according to the NCHC Web site. In 2007, employer health insurance premiums increased by 6.1 percent, according to the NCHC Web site. The annual premium for an employer health plan, covering a family of four, averaged nearly $12,100, while the annual premium for single coverage averaged more than $4,400. According to the NCHC Web site, experts say the health care system is challenged with administrative expenses, inflated prices, poor management and inappropriate care, waste and fraud. These problems increase medical care and health insurance costs. According to the NCHC Web site, policy-makers and government officials both say health care cost must controlled, but they do not agree on the ways to improve health spending and insurance premiums. David Conner, a vice president at Bowen, Miclette & Britt which is an insurance brokerage and risk management consulting firm, said, “With either candidate, we could see higher taxes to cover the new costs.” “If Obama is elected, we will see socialized medicine and everyone will have insurance, and with McCain, you will have more uninsured, but he wants to give us a tax credit for our health care costs,” Conner said. Obama Says: According to Barack Obama’s Web site, he wants every American to have health care. Obama wants to establish a National Health Insurance Exchange , which will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health care coverage with options ranging from private to new public plans. According to Obama’s Web site, he said he wants people with preexisting health conditions to be covered by insurance as well as lowering their insurance costs. Obama said he wants to lower drug costs by increasing the number of generic drugs available to the people, according to his Web site. McCain Says: According to his Web site, John McCain said he wants to make health care affordable and available for every American. Along with making insurance portable from job to job or job to home, McCain said on his Web site he would like to make it more portable by allowing everyone to go across state lines to obtain the best insurance. He wants to improve the quality of insurance to meet people’s needs. McCain wants Americans to choose their own insurance that is best for their needs. Every family will receive a $5,000 tax credit, and individuals will receive a $2,500 tax credit, according to his Web site. McCain wants to promote more research for chronic diseases, especially in regard to prevention. According to his Web site, he also wants to promote more programs about anti-smoking by working with businesses and insurance companies.