Written by Steven Spear, Jr.
I know that people say this during every presidential election, but this election is the most important one. Ever. If you look past the tired, repeated rhetoric from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (and even the teary-eyed Sanders supporter) to see the issues with which we are challenged, you might be frightened. The United States is facing serious challenges on many different fronts that will affects future generation many decades from now.
- While a handful of countries have recovered from the Great Recession, many have not. The twenty-eight countries that make up the European Union (EU) have been struggling for growth for years. The drag on these countries’ economies is slowing down in the United States. Low consumer spending and business investment are the roots of the EU’s problems, and this is dragging down the U.S. economy.
- In the 2012 results of the Programme for International Student Assessment, the United States scored 36th out of 65 countries. Internationally, over 510,000 15 year-olds were tested in reading, science, and math, and the U.S. lagged behind countries like China, Japan, Germany, and Russia. If our schools are not adequately preparing students, the U.S. will not be able to remain competitive on the international stage (PISA, 2012). In addition to an uncompetitive education system, the burden of over $1.2 trillion in college debt since 2013 haunts many college graduates (and college dropouts) for decades.
- Appointing Supreme Court Justices is one of the most important duties of any President. It is the President’s way of making a mark long after leaving office. For example, Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee, has shaped U.S. law for almost 30 years after Reagan left office and almost 15 years after his death. The next President is said to have a prime opportunity to leave a mark on the Supreme Court. In addition to the vacant seat left by Antonin Scalia, there is speculation that the following four Justices may retire in the next 4-8 years due to their age: Ruth Bader Ginsburg (83), Anthony Kennedy (80), Stephen Breyer (78), and Clarence Thomas (68).
- The main social insurance programs of the U.S. are Social Security (since 1935) and Medicare (since 1966). Both are quickly headed towards insolvency and will be unable to pay out full benefits within the next twenty years. Barring any changes: Medicare Part A benefits will exceed revenues in 2028, Parts B and D will remain solvent, and Part C is not publicly financed; Social Security’s benefits will exceed revenues in 2019, and reserves will be exhausted in 2034 (Lew et al., 2016).
- International relations have become increasing complex. Do we accept Syrian immigrants; if so, how many? How do we encourage legal immigration? What do we do about China‘s military build-up in Southeast Asia? How do we handle North Korea‘s unashamed attempts at developing a nuclear weapon? How do we handle an increasingly contentious relationship with Russia?
- The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) mandated that everyone have health insurance, but it did nothing to address the problem of high and rising healthcare costs. By any measure, the U.S. spends more on healthcare than any other developed country but does not have superior healthcare. Almost twenty percent of the federal budget is spent on healthcare, and these costs are expected to increase with no sign of slowing down (Kane).
The next President must—
- be ready and willing to help the rest of the world without hindering growth and losing jobs in the U.S.
- address an uncompetitive education system and rising student debt
- decide the majority judicial philosophy of the Supreme Court that could last for the next twenty-five years
- do whatever it takes to make Medicare and Social Security sustainable in the long run
- handle many, complex foreign and defense policy issues
- address the shortcomings of the Affordable Care Act
Vote for the candidate who you believe has the best plan for these issues.
Denhart, C. How the $1.2 trillion College Debt Crisis is Crippling Students, Parents, and the Economy. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/specialfeatures/2013/08/07/how-the-college-debt-is-crippling-students-parents-and-the-economy/#495d559f1a41
Kane, J. (2012). Health Costs: How the U.S. Compares with other Countries. PBS NEWSHOUR. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/health-costs-how-the-us-compares-with-other-countries/
Lew, Perez, Burwell, & Colvin. 2016. Status of the Social Security and Medicare Programs: A Summary of the 2016 Annual Reports.
PISA 2012 Results in Focus. Programme for International Student Assessment. OECD.