Student voters can help make history

Chris Vetter

With the 1996 election only four days away, students might be wondering why they should care. Many feel nothing ever changes anyway. But this election could be remembered as a pivotal point in our nation’s history, as Democrats try to wrest control of the Congress from Republicans, who will likely lose the presidential race.
The presidential election features contrasting views on the economy, balancing the federal budget and government spending. President Clinton touts the 1993 deficit reduction bill as a sign that the government can balance the budget gradually without deep cuts in spending. Clinton accurately states that the deficit has dropped in each of the four years since the 1993 bill, reducing the total from $260 billion to $109 billion dollars.
Clinton’s platform calls for continual reduction of the deficit through keeping taxes at their present level and making moderate spending cuts.
Bob Dole’s views on the economy are far from Clinton’s. Dole favors a balanced budget amendment that forces federal revenues and spending to be balanced each year beginning in 2002.
Dole also favors reductions in the gas tax, capital gains tax and an across-the-board 15 percent income tax reduction. While Clinton refers to the plan as a “$560 billion tax scheme that will blow a hole in the deficit,” Dole argues that the tax cuts will create job growth, increase investing and will get the economy to grow at twice its current rate of about 2.5 percent annually.
As different as these two candidates are, they probably can’t match the gap that separates Senator Paul Wellstone and Republican challenger Rudy Boschwitz.
Wellstone favors government programs aimed at improving society, while Boschwitz favors cutting programs that cost the taxpayer too much and are inefficient. For more on Wellstone and Boschwitz, read the adjoining articles.
The differences between these two candidates are reflected in the members of their respective parties in Congress. Voters will choose if they want to allow Republicans to retain control in the 104th Congress and continue the “Gingrich revolution,” or if they want to return to Democratic control of both houses.
Fourteen senators, including Dole, have decided to retire, leaving up for grabs the greatest number of seats without an incumbent ever. Eight of the retirees are Democrats, while six are Republican, putting the GOP lead in the Senate at 47 to 39, with 33 seats up for election this year.
In the House, 46 incumbents are retiring, most notably Democrats Pat Schroeder of Colorado and Sam Gibbons of Florida. The Democrats must gain 16 seats to take control of the House and oust Newt Gingrich from his position as the Speaker of the House.
The Republicans’ plans call for tighter spending on social programs, with increased funding for the military and lower taxes for families.
The Democrats’ plans, if they regain control, feature revising the welfare reform bill, which has already been signed into law, to provide more funding for job training. Their platform also calls for more funding for environmental protection and student loans, and the gradual balance of the budget without a constitutional amendment.
One example of the difference in ideas between the parties is in funding for higher education. The original Republican proposal called for a $10 billion reduction in higher education programs. The bill that was ultimately passed into law carried a reduction of $5 billion. Republicans say such cuts are necessary to reduce an unwieldy bureaucracy.
In comparison, the Democratic proposals generally call for a $1,500 tax credit for the first two years of higher education, or a $10,000 education tax deduction which can be used for education and post-education training programs.
Voters again have a clear choice of two perspectives on balancing the budget, stimulating the economy and spending for social programs. Student voters have to choose between two contrasting visions of America’s future, and Tuesday they can act on which vision they prefer.