November 4, 2012

Editorial: Obama for President

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Cornell’s fate is closely tied to the fate of national politics. The composition of our student body depends in large part on who can afford to go here, and the government plays a large role in determining college affordability. The quality of research that happens at Cornell is directly dependent on the $492 million the government spends on research here each year. The fate of Cornell students depends on responsible foreign policy and a strong job market. Both candidates have pledged to strengthen higher education and the economy, but only one has the consistency and record to make this more than just a pledge.Throughout this campaign, it became increasingly clear that President Barack Obama is the better candidate to lead this country for the next four years.  President Obama’s economic plan focuses on more than just short-term cuts and represents a long-term strategy for economic growth. Education is an essential investment that can strengthen the economy. However, Mitt Romney has misplaced priorities when it comes to economic growth. Governor Romney’s proposal to increase military spending by $2 trillion — and 20 percent across the board tax cuts — represents what we see as a frustrating lack of vision on the Governor’s part. Taxes, as a share of GDP, are at 60-year lows. Lower than at any point during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. On defense, the United States spends more than the next 19 highest spending countries combined. At a time when our militaristic superiority is only questioned by the foolhardy and the paranoid, do we really need 2 trillion more dollars of defense spending, in addition to 5 trillion dollars of proposed tax cuts? We believe we do not, especially when that money could be far better spent investing in education.President Obama understands the importance of a college education and has implemented policies that make it easier for students to pay for college. President Obama created the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which gives families who are paying college tuition $2,500 off their tax bill. Additionally, President Obama has fought for maintaining low interest rates on Stafford student loans and maintaining funding for the Pell Grant program that legislators in Washington, like Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, have worked hard to cut.Ryan’s budget would have severely cut back funding for higher education by lowering the income level at which students qualify for an automatic maximum grant and freezing the maximum Pell Grant at the fiscal year 2012 level of $5,550. This freeze would make it progressively harder for families to pay for college as inflation decreases the real value of each dollar. While Romney claims that he will expand the Pell Grant program, his position continues to shift. Earlier in the election, he called for cutting funding to the program.College students are understandably disheartened by the economy. Spending four years at Cornell only to be turned away by businesses that are not hiring is frustrating. However, we feel that the job market would be much worse were it not for the interventions that President Obama championed, including the $787 billion stimulus bill. In the long run, President Obama has taken steps that will strengthen our economy by closing the deficit through a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases. Reducing our national debt is of vital importance, but tax cuts and spending cuts alone will not fix the economy.Beyond these direct impacts on college education, Governor Romney’s plan will have long term implications for our generation. Governor Romney has promised that he will repeal Obamacare if he is elected. Obamacare’s repeal will not just doom the 30 million Americans without health insurance to continue to live at their own peril, it will diminish our generation’s economic freedom as we venture out into the job market. Those of us with preexisting conditions will find insurance hard to come by and will make accepting any job that does not already provide health care impossible. Repeal will also remove a provision that allows us to remain on our parents’ health insurance until age 26. Remaining on our parents’ plans keeps our premiums low, saving us money. While Romney says health care should be reformed, he and his Republican allies have yet to outline with what they would replace Obamacare.Additionally, in the next four years, it is overwhelmingly likely that whoever sits in the Oval Office will be forced to confront an Iranian regime perched on the edge of nuclear capability. President Obama’s past opposition to war in Iraq, as well as his successful record of handling international disputes, leads us to the conclusion that he will handle a difficult situation in the Middle East far better than Governor Romney. A war with Iran would be catastrophic, with consequences that would be felt not only by enlisted members of the military and their families, but also by our entire generation. Governor Romney’s tendency to fluctuate positions — a liability during a crisis — as well as President Obama’s successful record of international intervention, inform our belief that President Obama ought to remain the Commander In Chief.Nevertheless, reservations linger about a potential second-term for President Obama. Last week’s hurricane brought to the fore one vital issue on which both candidates have been woefully silent: The existence of man-made climate change can no longer be rationally denied, and it is increasingly clear that global warming will be one of the main challenges facing our generation. With that in mind, it is disheartening that neither President Obama nor Governor Romney has chosen to take a strong stand to protect the world we will soon inherit, or to affirm the inextricable connection between environmental stability and all other types of national and international progress.The dearth of discussion about climate change in this campaign is a depressing reminder that both candidates are beholden to corporate interests and only affirms the dangerous fallacy that protecting the environment is a goal at odds with economic growth — Romney has repeatedly implied this when pressed to discuss the issue. Though Romney’s persistence in burying his head in the proverbial sand on this and many other issues makes Obama the clear choice, the President’s silence is also very troubling. Though admittedly hampered by Republican resistance, Obama failed to pursue meaningful environmental legislation during his first term. We, his constituency, must continue pressuring him to take action and not to forget in the pragmatism and mudslinging of politics that it is our future at stake. We demand that he do everything in his power to protect it.Though the President has been hesitant to enter the political fray on several important issues like the environment and immigration, we support President Obama for reelection and hope he will fight more aggressively for the issues that matter to our generation.