10/03/2011 08:57 pm ET Updated Nov 29, 2011

Should Obama Be Reelected In 2012? High School Debaters Sound Off!

HuffPost Pro/Con is a bi-weekly column featuring high school debaters from The National Forensic League sounding off on hot-button issues.


Dylan Slinger, 18-year-old freshman at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business.

“Change” is the word that drove millions of passionate voters in 2008 to deliver the White House to Barack Obama. Now, with a tough reelection ahead, Obama must learn from another Illinois politician turned President, Abraham Lincoln. Campaigning during the Civil War, Lincoln’s slogan of “don’t change horses in the middle of the stream” provided direction amidst uncertainty. With an agenda in motion, an experienced team in place and four years exclusively to govern, Obama is America’s best bet for direction towards progress.

Bill Clinton stated America’s foremost interest correctly: it’s the economy, stupid. Americans vote with their checkbooks and the leadership of a cogent and experienced team is vital in these times of economic turbulence. The recession revealed that America lacks the basic industry to provide stable employment for many in our working class. Obama responded. His American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 allocated hundreds of billions of dollars to investments that renewed confidence and prevented another surge of unemployment. With swelling fear of a double-dip recession, Obama’s economic team recently crafted the American Jobs Act of 2011. This policy creates jobs and confidence through small business tax cuts, better access to capital for entrepreneurs and investment in the modernization of schools and infrastructure. Proposing and paying for this economic insurance policy, Obama has again proved he has the audacity to rise above polls and politics for the purpose of good policy.

This President has consistently prioritized statesmanship over politics. Retuning a foreign policy that spans the entire globe, Obama has diverged from the lone cowboy approach in favor of more collective diplomacy that is revamping America’s reputation abroad. Overstretched from fighting two wars, America cannot expect to portray, pass on and protect our ideals without the help of our allies. Cooperative engagement is delivering tangible results throughout the Arab world in the decline of extremism and surge of liberal ideals. However, like any effective Commander in Chief, Obama understands there is a time for action.

His decisive call on the Seal Team Six mission that eliminated Osama Bin Laden swiftly silenced opponents who criticized the President as soft on security. In a globalized world where major war has obsolesced, the unconventional threats like terrorism, genocide, piracy, and revolution pose the greatest challenges and necessitate a flexible foreign policy. Our President has planted the seeds of a balanced, agile foreign policy that spreads pro-American sentiments abroad. Now we must nurture these seeds and support our Commander in Chief.

To insure our ideals remain meaningful abroad and at home, America must practice what we preach. By tearing down the barriers of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and fighting off the proposed Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Obama reaffirmed that a just government cannot discriminate against minorities. Through the Affordable Care Act, Obama took leaps and bounds towards making quality health care an accessible right rather than an elite privilege. Progress on both issues has strengthened America’s moral compass and dealt a blow to the obstacles impeding liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Obama’s bold decisions have answered our call for a new direction and have begun moving America towards meaningful progress.

Economically, internationally and socially, Americans have demanded our President chart a new course for the future. Unfortunately, many have forgotten that all good things come in due time. The gallop towards progress has begun and we cannot afford to change horses in the middle of the stream. Now is the time for America to stay the course and for Americans to believe in the hope and change we voted for.


Josh Roberts, 18-year-old freshman at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.

President Barack Obama recently announced his new plan to reduce the United States $14 trillion debt by roughly $3 trillion. The reelection of President Obama has the potential to allow for the continuation of economic policies that could strongly affect the United States’ feeble economy in a negative manner.

The president’s new plan includes around $1.5 trillion in new revenue generated largely from an increase in taxes on the wealthiest Americans. This proposal will not only undermine the already shaky economy, but it is also one of many reasons why President Obama should not be reelected. While President Obama extended the Bush tax cuts, it was merely a political move – he had no other option. Given the opportunity, he admitted that he would choose to let the Bush tax cuts expire so that he could increase taxes for the wealthy. These kinds of economic policies display a fundamental misunderstanding of basic economic principles. As the Laffer curve displays, increasing tax rates will become counterproductive at a certain point because less and less revenue will be generated.

Reelecting President Obama would give him the ability to continually try and push policies that perpetually increase taxes on the wealthiest citizens in America instead of trying to fix the deficit in ways that allow for the government to get the highest tax revenues. When President Obama announced his new deficit plan, he expressly stated that he would veto any legislation that seeks to reduce the deficit solely through budget cuts. Thus, reelecting President Obama would almost certainly guarantee that the next four years would be rife with policies that increased taxes on the wealthy.

This sort of posturing by President Obama is nothing short of class warfare. While it is certainly true that the United States’ economy needs to be fixed, placing the burden on wealthy taxpayers is entirely arbitrary. While this plan may seem popular to a majority of Americans because it forces the wealthy to pay more, this mindset is extremely myopic. President Obama claims to be helping small businesses by increasing taxes on households that make over $250,000, but history shows that this taxation will actually just raise taxes on most small-business profits, thereby further burdening the very Americans President Obama is claiming to help. Moreover, increasing taxes will only slow job creation as it decreases the incentive for those being taxed the most to work hard and expand their businesses. Ultimately, President Obama’s tax increases will have the opposite effect that he is trying to achieve with his new bill, the American Jobs Act.

If Americans were to reelect President Obama, then we would be in for another four years of increased taxation that would undermine an already unstable economy. While it may seem publicly popular to tax the rich, the devil is in the details. This taxation on the nation’s wealthiest citizens is not all that it appears. The ultimate consequences of such policies would be lower tax revenues and a decrease in jobs as America’s economy continues to decline. Thus, instead of reelecting President Obama, Americans should be looking for candidates who hope to revive the economy in ways that do not rely on destructive and counterproductive tax hikes.