College Democrats And College Republicans Debate Domestic Wages, Iran Deal
The College Democrats and College Republicans squared off for the first time this semester Wednesday night, extending time limits for nearly every discussion and giving audience members a chuckle every once in a while. The debate focused on the recent Iran Deal and whether a minimum wage raise would be beneficial to the United States economy.
College Democrats president Veronica Weyhrauch said she wanted to convey a policy that is the “right thing to do” can also be economically sound. Her College Republicans opponent, Grant Worley, said he hoped to open up a dialogue tonight for future discussion.
The first topic on the agenda was raising the minimum wage. Worley defended leaving it at $7.25 an hour, citing Seattle as a prime example of where a raise does more damage than good.
Weyhrauch countered 60 percent of small business owners support a minimum wage increase and the government should listen to them. Worley did not agree with those business owners though, telling the audience that its “simple economics” and even if companies want to raise the minimum wage it doesn’t mean it’ll be good for them, which seemed to confuse the audience.
“They wouldn’t support something that’s going to put them out of business. I’m sure small business owners know what they can afford,” Weyhrauch said. She asserted that 53 percent of workers making less that $12 per hour are dependent on some form of government assistance and that the cost of living has gone up 12 percent since the last wage increase in 2009, citing the Department of Labor.
“The minimum wage wasn’t invented to sustain a household,” College Republican Henry Kampos said, also citing the Department of Labor. “If the minimum wage were raised to $10, half of a million people would lose their jobs.”
College Democrat Jason New responded to a question in the crowd regarding profit margins in fast food chains and why the government should be allowed to regulate wages. New explained that a Big Mac is an indicator of a country’s economy because it includes staples like meat, bread and cheese. He claimed that the United States has a higher Big Mac cost than European countries and a lower minimum wage. With this example, he ascertained that a minimum wage increase was needed. If the minimum wage does increase, more than half of those who benefit would be women — who work disproportionately at the minimum wage compared to men, according to New and a Department of Labor statistic.
After a short recess, the topic switched from money to bombs. The conversation focused on the effectiveness of sanctions and attempted arms reduction in Iran. The Republicans were steady in their conviction that giving any sort of olive branch to the “rabid dog” of Iran, as Kampos put it, would be a bad idea. Kampos and Worley were adamant that helping a state that has kidnapped Americans multiple times and funded terrorism would be absurd.
A College Democrats debater and Daily Collegian staffer who exclaimed “fuck off” when asked for his name joined Weyhrauch for this topic. Weyhrauch seemed hopeful a peace offering of lifting the Iran Deal sanctions would warm relations between the two countries and claimed $160 billion is lost each year because of trade limitations — money that could be beneficial to the people living in Iran.
“The best way to handle it is being more open with them so we can start a dialogue,” Weyhrauch said. “Making moves towards a diplomatic conversation is a good thing because what we’ve been doing hasn’t been working.”
On the topic of nuclear proliferation, Worley cited his own knowledge of nuclear systems, as he is a nuclear engineer. This raised an eyebrow or two in the crowd as he explained the differences between weapons materials and nuclear power plant materials.
The largest area of discrepancy in the Iran Deal debate was Iran’s ability to “clean up after themselves” if they do produce a bomb. The College Democrats believe Iran would not have enough time to clean up after themselves before the International Atomic Energy Administration found out about what was going on and inspected the situation. The College Republicans answered by saying they don’t care how long it takes to clean up because it only takes a second to set off a nuclear weapon.
Both parties walked away from the debate with some laughs from the crowd as the noticeably unseasoned debaters erred on occasion, but not all attendees were pleased with the evening.
“The debate is the most cringe-worthy thing I’ve seen since the Jeb Bush campaign,” senior Kyle Dulski said. The tone of the crowd following the discussion was hopeful that both parties would learn from this night to better prepare themselves for future debates.