08/23/2012 09:13 am ET Updated Oct 23, 2012

5 Issues Being Debated This Election That Affect Teens

Whether it's about the national debt, health care, or unemployment, talk surrounding "The Next Generation" always looms large in Washington. Politicians plead to parents and grandparents alike that their political beliefs will lead to a better future for America's youth than the beliefs of their opponents. A lot of the time, this loud-mouthed political rhetoric is nothing more than, well, loud-mouthed political rhetoric. But all those times that Governor Romney and President Obama stated that the results of the upcoming presidential election could have catastrophic effects on the next generation, they weren't engaging in hyperbole. This election has the potential to radically change the course of millions of teenagers' lives. Here are five issues being debated this election that, depending on who wins, could drastically alter the lives of teens around the country.

1. The National Debt: How To Address It

  • Both Governor Romney and President Obama believe that the rapidly rising U.S. National Debt is a major issue for the country, but (as you might suspect) they differ on how they plan to address the problem.
  • President Obama's plans for lowering the debt are centered around allowing the Bush Tax cuts for Americans making over $250,000 to expire.
  • Governor Romney's approach, on the other hand, would focus on defunding government programs Planned Parenthood, repealing Obamacare, and cutting government subsidies like the Amtrak subsidy, the PBS subsidy, and the subsidy for the National Endowment For The Arts.
2. Health Care Reform: To Repeal or Not To Repeal
  • President Obama's landmark piece of legislation in his first term was the Affordable Care Act. With it, he allowed children to stay on their parents' health care plan until age 26, providing many late teens and college graduates with health care. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act makes it much easier for all children to obtain health insurance.
  • Governor Romney has said that "on [his] first day [as President]" he would "act to repeal Obamacare." In doing so, he would get rid of the aforementioned provisions that will be so beneficial to America's youth.

3. Environment: Gas Prices vs. Global Warming

  • President Obama has supported legislation, such as cap-and-trade, that would incentivize reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Governor Romney is an advocate of further offshore drilling in the U.S. and the deregulation of the oil industry.
  • This is a debate that could directly affect the lives of every teenager in the U.S (not to mention the rest of the world). If the government doesn't start placing regulations on oil companies, we will have to face global warming when we are adults, but if we don't begin drilling offshore, gas prices will continue to rise to new heights.

4. Education Reform

  • Both Governor Romney and President Obama have called for changes to the education system in America.
  • Romney's plan, A Chance for Every Child, suggests the education system can be fixed by making sure teachers are qualified and schools are held accountable for their struggles.
  • Obama's Race to the Top initiative has provided grants to schools that have "innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achievement."

5. Birth Control: Expanding or Decreasing Accessibility

  • More and more teenagers around the U.S. have been using contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies and STD's.
  • There is a major debate in Washington right now over whether or not to allow the practice of using birth control to continue.
  • Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan sponsored legislation that would get rid of many of the most common forms of birth control.
  • President Obama's "Affordable Care Act" mandated that insurance companies pay for their customers' contraception.
  • Governor Romney is against this provision of President Obama's "Affordable Care Act."
  • The results of this election would almost certainly affect the level of accessibility Teenagers have to birth control, and thus, increase the rate of teenage pregnancies.