Democrats win spirited health care debate

By Patrick English '15

With strong facts and oratory prowess, the College Republicans and College Democrats squared off in a heated debate on Saturday, covering one of the top issues facing our country. The topic was “Resolved: The Affordable Care Act is good for America.” Not surprisingly, the Democrats supported the resolution, while the Republicans opposed it.

The Democrats won the coin toss, and opened the debate, with Jake London ’14 praising the Affordable Care Act for correcting a flawed health care system and largely paying for itself over the next ten years. Emily Moore ’15 responded for the Republicans, arguing that the measure was impractical, ineffective and irresponsible. She cited the rollout of the website and the fact that the act did not receive any support from Republicans in the House of Representatives or Senate.

Next, Matt Creeden ’16 led the rebuttal for the Democrats, explaining that the bill did in fact receive bipartisan support in the past. It came from similar Republican ideas in Massachusetts and under the Clinton administration. Brady Sprague ’15 responded for the Republicans, fearlessly and quickly rebutting every point the Democrats had made thus far. He stated that that the Supreme Court reviewed the bill as a tax, a way in which it would never have passed Congress. He continued to  hammer home the Republican theme that these first few weeks painted a picture of the ineffectiveness of the bill.

Anderson Tuggle ’14 closed for the Democrats, asking the audience to look at the big picture of this bill. He explained that it was a bipartisan step away from denying Americans coverage, and once it was fully up and running, it would do great things for this country. Sarah Larson ’15 closed for the Republicans, summing up their points that the Affordable Care Act was unrealistic and inadequate, given its stumbling blocks over the last few weeks.

After the first half of the debate, the moderator opened the floor for questions from the audience. The audience realized that there was no Republican altervative plan and one audience member suggested that the debate was really a question of social justice.  It comes down to whether or not health care is a right, and that is what splits the two sides.

In terms of a winner, this debate was rather tough to call. Both sides brought their A-game, with quality points and stellar execution. However, I agreed with junior Jack Boyle’s sentiment that the “Republicans were better speakers, but the Democrats had better points.” Therefore, despite my disagreement with their side on the issue, I would have to give the edge to the Democrats. The lack of a viable alternative on the Republican side was ultimately their downfall.

The spirit of this debate was at a standard we have not seen in the past. In previous debates between these clubs, the winners were clearer, with one side often knowing their facts much better than the other. One can only hope that this kind of debate, in which the oponents are well prepared to argue, continues in the future.

I also hope that we can look to so-called “smaller” issues that are not on the forefront of the political stage. If we turn away from some of the bigger issues like health care or last year’s debate over the 2012 election, we will better educate the Hamilton community on topics such as quantitative easing or the debt crisis. While these are big issues on the national stage, the larger community does not always understand them. This debate certainly opened my eyes to a number of facets of the Affordable Care Act; hopefully future on campus debates will do the same.


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