Politics this week
By Matthew Koos '13
Published: Friday, February 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 1, 2013 02:02
The 2012 elections have come and gone, and now it is time for the men and women elected to fulfill the promises made on the campaign trails. President Obama and the freshman classes in the Senate and the House were elected because of their platforms and stances on the important and pressing issues in America, and that will be the focus of this column for the remainder of the year.
While Democrats held on to the White House and the Senate in November, Republicans were able to maintain their majority in the House. This means that members from both parties must come together in bipartisan efforts for real change to be made. At least until the 2014 Midterm elections, that is.
Let’s take a look at the most prominent political issues facing our politicians this year, and how possible legislation could impact Lafayette students.
Just this past week, new immigration legislation was introduced by a bipartisan group of eight senators, lead by Republican John McCain and Democrat Chuck Schumer. The plan, which President Obama announced his support for, calls for stricter border control and an employment verification system, making it more difficult to hire undocumented workers.
The plan also calls for “tough but fair” path to legal citizenship for the nation’s nearly eleven million undocumented immigrants and promises that this reform will aid and expand the economy. Passing this plan would also include the Dream Act, which would provide automatic legal citizenship to young Americans whose parents came here illegally. That aspect of the bill directly applies to college-aged students like those here at Lafayette.
In December, this country was hit with the news of an elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn. that left 26 people dead, including 20 children under the age of ten. This has prompted much discussion regarding gun laws here in America. President Obama introduced sweeping gun reform laws that include banning assault weapons and background checks for all gun purchases.
This past Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on gun violence, listening to testimony from victims like former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly. Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association’s executive vice president, also gave testimony, urging lawmakers to focus more on mental health issues and the violence portrayed in music and entertainment industries.
The second amendment protects gun ownership, but the question will be asked to what extent. Unfortunately, it has been shown that gun violence can touch anyone in this country, from college students, moviegoers and first graders.
The Debt Ceiling
The debt ceiling debate is something that will affect the economy and, therefore, will impact every American. The debt ceiling will be reached in March, which means we will likely see a repeat of the fiscal cliff debate that took place as 2012 was coming to an end.
The debt ceiling is the legal limit on the amount of money the Federal government can borrow in order to continue operations. It is more than likely that a last minute deal will be reached, as has often been the case. But until any deal is reached, uncertainty will remain. And uncertainty is never a positive influence on the markets and the economy.
As the year progresses, other issues are sure to emerge, but these three issues are the current focus of our leaders in Washington. It will also be interesting to keep an eye on the President’s cabinet appointments for the second term and to get to know the new members of the administration. 2013 is sure to bring a lot of exciting political events, and they will continue to be brought to Lafayette’s attention in this column.