Four years after electing the nation’s first African-American president amid the worst economic depression since the Great one, many Americans are beginning to doubt how much of his fabled “change” President Obama has managed to accomplish. A better question, though, is which candidate has the potential to affect the most change during the next presidency. We at the Wheel believe that the answer is still Barack Obama.
We have chosen to examine four issues that we believe to be of particular interest to Emory University students. Although these four issues do not address the entirety of Obama’s or Romney’s platforms, we feel that they do address a spectrum of issues that student voters will be most concerned with.
Pell Grant Funding
Pell Grants are federally funded monetary grants of as much as $5,500 given to low-income college students who would otherwise be unable to afford their college education.
Although funding for the Pell Grant program has grown from $19 billion in 2009 to $36 billion for the 2013 fiscal year, grant funding is not keeping pace with the rising cost of tuition. Instead, Pell Grants cover only a third of the cost of an average four-year public college.
Obama has nearly doubled funding for Pell Grants. He also took the federal loan program, which was once operated by private “middle man” banks, under federal control. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this change will save the federal government $62 billion through the year 2020.
Romney’s plan to provide financial aid to college students is somewhat more vague. Romney has criticized Obama’s current plan for Pell Grant funding as, “financially unstable,” according to NPR. Romney does not plan to increase federal funding for education. In fact, his running mate, Paul Ryan, is calling for a 20 percent decrease in all domestic spending. This includes education spending.
We cannot afford a president who will work actively against initiatives to reduce the cost of higher education. Investment in education is an investment in the future success of our nation.
Obama has demonstrated a noticeable commitment to furthering education reform. Obama has proposed that $14 billion of the FY2013 budget be invested in “key reform areas,” which include aligning educational programs with workforce demands, promoting the teaching profession and making college education more affordable.
On the other hand, although Romney claims that he does not intend to cut education funding, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan says he wants to cut billions of dollars from education.
Romney’s plan for education seeks to “revamp accountability measures,” “attract and retain the best teachers” and “tie funding to education reform,” according to an article on Education.com.
Obama has taken great strides to make contraceptives of all varieties as available as possible. His Affordable Care Act provides free contraceptive coverage for all insured women, and he supports making contraceptive coverage available to employees of religiously affiliated universities and hospitals. However, Obama believes that healthcare insurers should pay for this coverage, not the employers themselves.
Romney, meanwhile, has accused Obama of waging a war on religion, claiming that his proposal forces religious institution to go against their beliefs. Romney intends to give employers the option to withhold contraceptive coverage to their employees. However, readily available contraception is a liberty that must be made available to all American women.
Equal Pay and the Lilly Ledbetter Act
Obama’s first piece of legislation as president sought to eliminate the so-called “glass ceiling” by establishing provisions for fair pay, regardless of gender.
Romney, meanwhile, has said that were he president at the time, he would have vetoed the Lily Ledbetter Act. He has been consistently unwilling to answer questions on the topic of fair pay for women.
Women deserve equal rights, including fair pay at work. This is not a question. That Romney might oppose equal rights for anyone, female or otherwise, is truly disconcerting.
In conclusion, Barack Obama’s education policy promotes the widespread availability of higher education, and he consistently supports the sexual health and economic well being of American women. Although his record is not flawless, he is adept at quickly making wise decisions, and we trust him to take the best care of our nation.
We encourage readers to see Page 8 for our full analysis and respective sources. The above staff editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel’s editorial board.