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Important issues among student voters: Students split on presidental candidates, taxes, economy

By Sarah Shannon

Oct. 25, 2012

This year’s election is less than two weeks away, and many issues face the two presidential candidates — and these are the issues that sway voters toward one candidate or the other.

When asked what issues were important to them, Cleveland State students knew and could say which candidate they agreed with. However, the explanation of why they agreed was not always as elaborate.

One issue expressed as important by students is taxation, primarily individual taxes.
“I believe that we shouldn’t be taxing anyone more than another,” Ryan Houchens said, “nor, should we be taxing to spend.”

Houchens added that he feels the government has become too big over the past few years. While he realized some of the spending done was needed, he also noted, “Other large sections of spending haven’t been needed.”

Jake Hastings shared the same views as Houchens.

“I don’t think we should tax the wealthy more than any other class,” he said. “What we need is a flat tax. The wealthy have money because they earned it.”

Hastings is voting for Gov. Mitt Romney in this upcoming presidential election.
Houchens and Hastings mentioned that one group of people should not be taxed more than the other — both political candidates plan on giving tax breaks.

Romney plans to keep the tax cuts from the George W. Bush presidency for all incomes. He is going to eliminate taxes for tax payers with an annual gross income below $200,000 on interest, dividends and capital gains.

The rumor is Romney plans to give tax breaks to the rich, which is true.

With the equal tax break across the board, it will bring the top rate down from 35 percent to 28 percent.

In retrospect, the lowest rate will go down to 8 percent from 10 percent. Everyone will be receiving a tax break.

“Romney believes in a hard working America,” Hastings said. “He’s not as numb to the middle class as people think.”

Nicole Liatos said, “The middle class is very important, and Obama is fighting for the middle class.”

In regards to taxes, “Giving tax breaks to millionaires makes no sense,” she said.
Obama’s plan is to raise taxes on the wealthy — ensuring they pay 30 percent of their income at minimum. He also supports extending the tax cuts from the Bush presidency, only for those making under $200,000.

Taxes cannot be discussed without talk about another big issue — the economy.
“I know the economy is getting better,” Yolanda Torres said. “However, it is still struggling on improvement and the budget deficit is still increasing.”

Torres’ opinion is that President Barack Obama is doing his best to cut the deficit and improve the economy.

Obama responded to the recession with an $800 billion stimulus plan. He also continued the bailouts of Wall Street and the auto industries, implemented by the Bush administration.

He plans on giving tax breaks to U.S. manufacturers that produce domestically, or that are bringing back jobs they have sent abroad, and giving tax penalties to those outsourcing jobs.

Obama plans to tackle the debt with a mixture of spending cuts and revenue increases.

“People don’t get that it’s going to take more than a term to get the economy back to where it was,” Torres added.

According to the National Census Bureau, the national debt came to $136,000 per household.

“I don’t want it left over for me to pay,” Houchens said.

Hastings admitted he was not as educated on Obama’s economic plan as he would like to be.

“All I see,” he said, “is an almost doubled national debt, over 8 percent unemployment, skyrocketing gas prices and a ranking of seven in Global Competitiveness. People criticize Romney’s plan because they want something that will revive the lower class. However, by revive they mean bail them out.”

Romney’s plan to stimulate the economy calls for lower taxes, less regulation, a balanced budget and more trade deals to spur growth. For those currently unemployed, he proposes unemployment savings accounts rather than benefits.

Romney plans to cap federal spending at 20 percent of gross domestic product by the end of his first term. The spending is currently at 23.5 percent.

He also plans to repeal “Obamacare,” saving the government $95 billion in costs. He feels this is a matter to be determined by the states, as it was previously.

Romney also supported the bailout of financial institutions because he felt the entire system would collapse if the bailout did not occur.

Another issue students found to be important was higher education.

“Obama has made it affordable with expanding college aid,” Liatos said.

This is true. He has expanded financial aid.

Obama has fought to prevent federal student loan interest rates from doubling. He also capped federal student loan repayments at 10 percent of income. He has established new grants for veterans and service members, as well as single-parent families.

Romney believes all these new federally funded grants are driving up tuition prices at universities, causing a heavier burden on college students and their families. He wants to simplify the financial aid system and make it stronger. As well, he wants the private sector to have a part in funding college educations. Romney also notices the importance of tech and trade schools — the jobs produced from these alternative educational institutions bring new opportunities for the economy.

Knowing what issues are important as a voter influences how one votes, but knowing why these issues are important is what makes one’s vote count.