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Student leaders debate

SARAH OLSEN | Evergreen assistant editor

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In the first of two debates, representatives of the WSU Young Democrats and College Republicans discussed their platforms on the state of the U.S. economy Wednesday in Butch’s Den.

Young Democrats President Gavin Pielow and College Republicans President James Allsup agreed one solution to student debt is to reduce interest rates on student loans so the federal government does not make a profit.

“We can pay for free tuition in the United States,” Pielow said. “It would cost $75 billion, which is 15 percent of the military budget.”

College Board estimates that it would cost $95 billion to cover the cost of students’ tuition, room and board, according to its 2015 report. It would cost $45.6 billion without covering their room and board, but $95 billion is 15 percent of the 2015 U.S. military budget, which totaled $598.5 billion.

Allsup said he disagrees that college should be free because he believes college students need incentive to work hard. He added that only in the last 100 years has education been thought of as a right.

One of the next questions was about how to reduce the unemployment rate among college graduates, which Allsup said would happen if students chose not to get a degree where there is no job market.

“You have to create jobs,” he said, “and students have to be smarter in the choices that they make when they decide to go to college.”

Young Democrats member Jacob Woodbury suggested one solution would be to create connections between businesses and colleges in order to create internships, with the government offering a tax break to these businesses.

On the subject of paid family leave, Pielow said the U.S. and Papua New Guinea are the only two countries in the world that don’t provide paid family leave. According to a report from the International Labor Organization, Lesotho and Swaziland also don’t offer paid family leave. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t offer paid leave, according to the report.

Pielow said tax breaks on payroll taxes would cover things like paid family leave, but Allsup disagreed that this is necessary and argued there is no gender wage gap.

“The gender gap is caused by women making different lifestyle choices and taking time off to go and have kids,” Allsup said. He said this makes women less valuable as employees.

According to a 2015 report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, women make 80 cents to every man’s dollar.

Allsup said it is not the government’s job to say that every company has to pay for their female employees to take time off when they have a child, because the person who is going to have to pay for it is the American consumer. Some companies do choose to pay for that, but it should be their choice, he said.

Pielow said that some women can’t even get a day off to give birth, which is why the U.S. law should change in this area.

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Allsup said he doesn’t particularly support either decreasing or increasing military spending, but that if programs aren’t effective, the U.S. should not continue to fund them.

“We need to be serious and be smart about where we’re spending our money,” he said.

Pielow said he believes the military is much larger than necessary right now.

“Newsflash: The Cold War is over,” he said.

The military budget should be adequate for what the nation needs, Pielow said, which is not currently the case.

In order to deter terrorists, Allsup said he supports building a wall along the border between the U.S. and Mexico. He said he would also call for a temporary moratorium on immigration and visas from certain countries, which he agrees isn’t politically correct but “you don’t see terrorists coming in from places like Mongolia.”

There have been no known terrorists or terrorist groups operating in Mongolia, according to the U.S. Dept. of State Mongolia Crime and Safety Report.

“When it comes to reducing the risk of a possible attack on U.S. citizens,” Pielow said, “I think one very key initiative we can do is common sense gun reform and background checks when buying guns.”

Pielow said the last thing the U.S. should do is build a database of Muslim-American citizens or a “Trump wall” along the U.S. and Mexican border.

Video of the full event is available on The Daily Evergreen’s Facebook page. The second debate between the two student political organizations will focus on human rights and social issues. It will take place at 7 p.m. on Oct. 20 in Butch’s Den and will be live streamed on the Center for Civic Engagement’s YouTube channel.

Editor’s note: This article has been revised to reflect that Young Democrats President Gavin Pielow does not support creating a database of Muslim-American citizens.

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Student leaders debate