Members of the GW College Democrats and College Republicans engaged in a fiercely partisan debate on health care reform Thursday night in the Marvin Center Amphitheater.
Seniors Eshawn Rawlley and Dan Curran represented the CDs, while seniors Brandon Hines and Andrew Clark represented the CRs. Professor Derek Malone-France, who teaches University Writing courses, moderated the event.
Curran started the night off by stressing the need to move past the status quo and enact reform that gives more Americans access to health care, freedom to choose their own doctors and insurance, and “above all else, dignity.”
He jabbed at the Republicans, whom he called the “obstructionist party of no,” saying “they’re getting pretty good at the intimidate, obfuscate and complicate plan.”
Hines countered for the Republicans, summing up the Democrats’ plan as “no new choices and hardly affordable,” that will “lead to another bloated, over-budget, unsustainable government entitlement program.”
Hines said the Republican plan will not bankrupt America, take away choices or ration care, but will “maintain the quality of health care, lower costs and increase accessibility.”
Much of the debate was focused on the cost of reform, which Clark, who is also a Hatchet columnist, called “the heart of the differences between the two parties.”
Clark charged that the Democrats’ current bill would cost the country at least $1 trillion and add $239 billion to the deficit, an amount of money that he said is “not chump change.”
Curran said the Democrats will eliminate tax credits for the rich and, if necessary, cut other spending to ensure the plan does not add any money to the deficit.
The debate shifted to discussion over a public option, which Clark called “a government-run wrecking ball.” Clark said the public option will not foster competition and is unnecessary.
Rawlley responded by saying the public option is “one sliver of what we’re trying to offer the American people.” He argued that the public option will be funded by premiums and offer consumers a more affordable plan.
“We’ve heard the claims of socialism, we’ve heard it all before. This is not a broken record, folks, it’s the Republican Party’s greatest hits collection. I’m tired of hearing it, I want to put on a new record,” he said, eliciting applause from the audience.
While the Democrats chided their opposition for slowing the process of reform, the Republicans countered by saying that something that will have the impact of reform should be given the time for debate it deserves.
“I think, when it comes to something that is a seventh of our economy, we should probably take the same six months it took Barack Obama to pick a name for his dog,” he said, evoking laughter and applause from the audience.
The Republican side praised tort reform as one component of their plan that would help lower costs, while the Democrats expressed the need to computerize medical records to avoid redundant costs, and increase preventative care to help avoid high costs and save lives.
In closing, Rawlley said “health care reform cannot and will not be perfect.” He continued by saying that if done right, health care reform can aid the economy and make Americans healthier.
“If we allow this moment to affect change pass us by, this country will drown under the rising costs of health care. That’s where we are, there’s no sugar-coating it. This is hard stuff,” he said.
Clark ended by saying “the more government intervention we have, the worse it’s going to be, plain and simple.” He advocated for tort reform and cutting back on costly mandates.
“We want reform but we want to make the American health care system better, not worse,” he said.