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Students pick Obama in BISF debate on jobs

By Ami Dave     3/31/11 7:00pm

The Baker Institute Student Forum hosted a student debate on March 22 about the current job market and whether President Barack Obama's policies have had a positive or negative impact so far.

Teams of four representatives from the Rice University Young Democrats and the Rice University Conservative Forum attempted to persuade the audience to support their views on government spending, size and regulations as they relate to the job market in the United States.

Representing the Rice University Young Democrats were Hanszen juniors Myles Bugbee and Andrew Pegues, Duncan junior Kevin Bush and Sid Richardson sophomore Rahul Rekhi.

Representing the Rice University Conservative Forum were Hanszen senior Sean Sessel, Wiess sophomore Anthony Lauriello, McMurtry freshman Eli Spector and Hanszen sophomore Taylor Williams.

Audience members were given cards before and after the debate on which to vote on the impact Obama has had on the job market. Of the 47 people who voted prior to the start of the debate, eight believed that Obama's policies have had a negative impact, 20 believed they have had a positive impact and 19 audience members were undecided.

Thirty attendees submitted their cards at the end of the debate; seven believed Obama's policies have had a negative impact, 17 believed they have had a positive impact, and six were left undecided.

The debate covered many aspects of job market, focusing on the role of government in the economy and related issues, like the stimulus package, health care reform and regulation.

The debate began with opening remarks from the Conservative Forum.

"The solution is to pursue the creation of wealth by limiting spending, government size and regulations," Hanszen senior Sean Sessel said. "Barack Obama has done the opposite, so we must conclude that he has had a negative impact on the job market in America."

In response, Young Democrat and Hanszen junior Andrew Pegues mentioned Obama's stimulus bill, which he argued put money back in the hands of the American people and was an investment in long term job growth due to the fiscal multiplier effect.

"Obama has helped revolutionize and rebuild the regulatory structure and restart the economy during its darkest hour," Pegues said.

After opening statements from both sides, the issue of government spending was introduced, followed by government size and lastly, regulations. For all three topics, each side was allotted four minutes for opening remarks, 90 seconds for cross-examination of the opposition, a joint two minutes to take questions from the audience and a final 30 seconds for concluding remarks.

"I thought it was a fantastic debate," Sid Richardson sophomore Scott Norgaard said. "The debaters did so much research and acted very professionally. I attended the debate in order to be more informed about political issues, which I was."

Conservative Forum member Williams argued that regulations instead intrude on the freedom of American citizens.

"The current administration's only concern is to divide up an ever-shrinking pie differently," Williams said. "Its vision is one of people control, which, social and economic justice granted, is funded by the government."

Moderator and BISF President Lauren Baba said it was a thrill for her to serve as moderator for such an enthusiastic debate. Debate attendees were very engaged in the discussion, she said. Even after the debate ended, students were eager to volunteer their thoughts on the issues brought up by both the Conservative Forum and the Young Democrats.

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