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The Great Debate Brings Heated Arguments To Schwab Auditorium

On eve of the Pennsylvania primary, Penn State College Democrats and Republicans came together for the annual Great Debate. This years event titled “Entitled America? The Role of Government in Everyday Life” brought together Republican Karl Rove, former Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff under George W. Bush, to battle it out against Democrat Paul Begala, former advisor to Bill Clinton. Penn State’s own Dr. John Gastil mediated the event and took questions from twitter using the hashtag #PSUGreatDebate.

Begala thanked Penn State for having him as he took the stage and made jokes with the audience that he and several Penn State Alumni in his family are “the smart branch of the Begala Family.”  Although the two showed respect for one another, they continued to lighten the mood with a few humorous bits. Begala warned the crowed,”Not to believe everything you hear on Fox New” as a crack at Roves current commentator position with the station.

The debate was more than a conversation of big vs. small government, and the two spoke for their parties on when it is appropriate for the United States Government to intervene on both fiscal and social issues. The course of the debate brought up pressing issues such as LGBTQA rights, minority taxation of wealth, and the future of the country’s education.

“The federal government played an essential role in creating Penn State University,” Begala explained to a cheering crowd as he explained the importance of a strong central government.  However, Begala was very emphatic on the slippery slope that is student debt, and stated that the government should take action on making public education more affordable. “We drink from a well we did not dig, and now you guys are digging your own well while drinking water.”

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Rove, like most conservatives that fall to the right end of the spectrum, seemed to be very passionate about the questions that dealt with the fiscal responsibility of our government.

“It’s morally wrong to tax something twice, we taxed every dollar that went into the pool of assets as they came in” Rove said on estate tax . “We’re going to celebrate the death of the person who collected it by taxing that seems like a great way to celebrate their life.” He continued to argue that the top 10 percent of wealth pay 80 percent.

Begala argued back, “We tax work in this country far higher than we tax wealth,” claiming that many people in the audience work hard but are taxed on every nickel they earn, as millionaire heirs continue to compile the wealth and and are never taxed on it.

At the conclusion of the debate the two agreed on the importance of voting in the primary election, pointing out that our future is written on those ballots.

“If you don’t like the way things are going, get up off your ass and vote,” Begala shouted. “Every single one of you better be at that polling place tomorrow.”

About the Author

Shannon Fox

Shannon is a senior at Penn State majoring in Journalism and English. New York City born and Bucks County raised she often complains about State College's lack of good Italian restaurants. She is a lover of all things music and an avid football fan (just not the American kind) Toss her a follow on twitter @ShannonAudFox or Email her at [email protected]


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