TRANSCRIPT: THE WALDEN UNIVERSITY PRESIDENTIAL YOUTH DEBATE
Anthony Tedesco: Hello and Welcome to the Walden University Presidential Youth Debate. I’m Anthony Tedesco founder of the Presidential Youth Debates and of Portable Heroes, the producer of this event. On behalf of our host, Walden University, and millions of young Americans nationwide I’d like to thank Senator Obama and Senator McCain for answering these 14 previously unanswered questions that young American’s themselves have chosen as most important to them and to their votes.
Our first two questions are from our co-moderator, Chris Nelson, editor of Pop and Politics and Rich Williams, higher education advocate of US PIRG. Our next 10 questions were submitted and chosen as most important by 18-35 year olds nationwide. Our final two questions were submitted by 13-17 year old future voters and chosen by them as their two greatest concerns. We’ve asked that the candidates limit their responses to two minutes and we’ve provided the questions ahead of time so that they can give us specific well thought-out answers. Answers young Americans need to vote for the future they want. And answers that will give Americans of all ages their last look at where the candidates stand on the same issues before the election.
Hi I’m Rich Williams, Co-Moderator of the Walden University Presidential Youth Debate, and Higher Education Advocate of U.S. PIRG. I’m from Washington D.C., I’m 23 years, and here’s my question: “Young people across the county are very worried about the financial crisis. They need to get student loans for school and find jobs after graduation. This Wall Street crisis and bailout happened largely because of a breakdown in oversight, so will you support an independent, government-created agency led by consumers that will protect the public and shareholders to prevent something like this from ever happening again? What additional protections would you propose?”
Senator Obama: Thanks for your question and first I want to thank Walden University and all of you for inviting me to participate in this debate. I know young people are worried about their future we are facing the most severe economic crisis in a generation. It’s hard to pay for gas, or find a job, or get a loan for that college you dreamed of attending. But here’s what else I know, we can steer ourselves out of this crisis because at every moment in history we’ve risen to meet our challenges. Not as democrats not, as republicans, but as Americans. We can do it again, but it will take new direction and new leadership in Washington. That’s why I’m running for President.
And as President protecting tax payer dollars will be my top priority. From the day I take office I will demand a full review of the rescue plan to make sure that it's working for tax payers and that tax payers are getting their money back. I’ve proposed a financial stability fee that says if we see losses Wall Street foots the bill not tax payers. And we’ll put in place the common sense regulations and rules of the road that I’ve been calling for since March. Rules that will keep our market free and fair, and honest, rules that will restore accountability and responsibility in our corporate boardrooms, rules that will prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again.
I believe we can steer ourselves out if this crisis because I believe in America. And if you stand with me on November 4th then together we can overcome the broken policies and divided politics of the last eight years and renew America’s Promise.
Senator McCain: If I’m elected President I’ll act immediately with reforms to restore the fairness, integrity, and financial sanity to the institutions that have failed us on Wall Street. We will apply new rules to Wall Street to end the frenzies of speculation by people that were gaming the system and make sure that this present crisis is never repeated.
I’ll consider all approaches to responsible oversight over our financial institutions and I recognize that Americans demand a sensible balance of oversight and market freedom to get our economy moving again.
We gotta take steps as soon as possible to keep American’s in their homes. That’s the American dream. I proposed a plan to allow Americans who have fallen behind on their mortgages to obtain new mortgages with a little help from the government. This will not only help American families struggling to make ends meet, but it will also help stop the plunge in housing prices that have caused and exacerbated and made far worse the current crisis. This crisis my friends, started with the collapse of the housing market, the values of houses literally collapsed because of corrupt practices and excess in greed in Washington and on Wall Street. Those people have to be punished my friends. We’re angry, everybody in your family is angry and you have every right to be angry and we’ve got to hold them accountable. But the first thing we need to do is keep people in their homes. My plan will do that and I’m confident that as President we can turn this crisis around, create jobs, get our economy strong again, and assure you a much brighter future then the one you are facing today because of the failure of the people you believed in and trusted. You can trust me.
I warned about this crisis. I warned about it a long time ago. I supported legislation to fix Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac and unfortunately they had too much influence, too many lobbyist, too many members of congress were defending them in their corrupt practices.
Hi I’m Chris Nelson, I’m Co-Moderator of the Walden University Presidential Youth Debate, and Editor of Pop and Politics. I’m 29 years old, I’m from California, and this is my question: “Is there a realistic way for the government to drive a reduction in oil consumption and research in green technologies while still keeping Big Oil as a key economic player and not risking an all-out blockade of any such legislation by their lobbying arms? What incentive can we provide those companies to invest in future technologies without isolating such powerful domestic economic drivers?’’
Senator Obama: Our addiction to foreign oil is one of the most dangerous and urgent threats this nation has ever faced. From the gas prices that are wiping out paychecks and straining businesses to the instability and terror bred in the middle to rising oceans and a warming planet.
In the short term as we transition to renewable energy we can and should increase or domestic production of oil and natural gas, but now is the time to fast track my plan for energy made in America that commits to renewable energy, creates 5 million new green jobs, and ends our dependence on middle east oil. We’ll invest 150 billion dollars in the next decade in alternative energy sources like wind, solar, and the next generation of bio fuels. We’ll reduce consumption through new aggressive efficiency measures. The cap and trade program I proposed will allow us to reduce our dangerous green house gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, slowing the warming of our planet.
Senator McCain: I have proposed sort of what I call the all of above approach to energy. I believe we gotta tap all of our domestic resources; offshore oil and natural gas, nuclear, wind, solar, hydro, and bio fuel. And you know the strategy has got to get us off the dependence on foreign oil. We are sending 700 billion dollars a year of your parent and your money to countries that don’t like us very much. And we got to move towards green energy, green energy is the future not only to address climate change, but also, more importantly to get us off our dependence on foreign oil.
Look, I want to give incentives to consumers and automakers so that we can have fuel efficient vehicles like eclectic cars, flex fuel cars, hydrogen. We should update our electricity grid so that we can be more efficient in our use of power. But we finally have to get serious about climate change. I’ve led the fight for a long time thanks to young people way back when I first ran for president in 2000 and said what are you going to do about global warming? I reached across the isle and we proposed legislation. My friends we didn’t succeed at passing that legislation because the special interest beat us, but we’ve always gone back in to the fight. And if I’m President I’ll work with congress to establish a system that basically puts incentives for people to save on green house gas emissions and therefore earn credits which will then encourage everybody to reduce and eliminate green house gas emissions and by the way clean coal technology is one of them. And also I will enter in to negotiations for a global including India and China system where around the globe we reduce and eventually eliminate green house gas emissions to levels that are acceptable to protect our planet. I need to do that for you my friends.
This question was submitted by 21 year old, Anjali K., of California. She asks: “If elected, how do you propose to reform the No Child Left Behind Act, which you both have admitted needs a complete overhaul?”
Senator Obama: I believe that the goals of no child left behind were the right ones, but if we’re gonna give our children the skills to compete and win in a global economy we’re gonna have to fix what’s wrong with them. I have a new vision for 21st century education. One where we aren’t just investing more money, but demanding more reform as well. We’ll set standards for our teachers and our schools, but we’ll also give them the resources they need to meet those standards. We’ll recruit an army of new teachers, but we will also pay them well and give them more support and instead of teaching kids how to fill in a few bubbles on a test, we’ll develop a curriculum and assessments that teach our kids to become more then just good test takers. That’s how we’ll fix no child left behind and guarantee all our children the promise of a quality education.
Senator McCain: No child left behind was our first effort to focus our attention on the realities of how students perform against a common standard. So I can know how my daughter Bridget is doing in Arizona in comparison to another young person anywhere in America.
We no longer accept low standards for some students and high standards for others. In this age of honest report we finally see what’s happening to students who were previously invisible. That’s a progress all on its on, but merely compels us to seek and find solutions to the dismal facts that are before us.
No child left behind targets the structure of education it doesn’t address adequately the underlying cultural problems in our education system. A system that still seeks to avoid genuine accountability and responsibility for producing well educated children. I’ve proposed a comprehensive education reform that focuses on standards accountability and choice. I’ll create financial incentives for schools to recruit the best teachers and for teachers to relocate to challenging education settings and teach subjects like math and science. I’ll expand online educational opportunities and give low income students access to tutors and I’ll make sure the decisions about how to use Federal funds are made by those who are best suited to use those funds wisely; principals, parents, and students. No child left behind was a good beginning. No we have learned a lot of lesson, now we have to fix it and move on. We’ve got a long way to go my friends.
This question was submitted by 20 year old, Chris B., of Ohio. He asks: “What steps will you take to help end genocides around the world? (Darfur, Burma, etc.) Furthermore, what steps will you take to prevent such atrocities from being started?”
Senator Obama: As members of the global community we have a reasonability to care about each others problems not just when there is a missile pointed at us, or a dictator on the march, but wherever conditions exist that could give way to human suffering on a massive scale. In Darfur we need to start by increasing the pressure on Khartom to comply with the will of the international community and stop the senseless killing.
We need to accelerate the effective deployment of Unimin and help provide critical support. And we need to get serious about resolving the wider Sudanese crisis by shoring up a comprehensive peace agreement and pushing for fair democratic elections so the Sudanese people can hold their government responsible.
Along with our allies we need to learn a lesson from Darfur and send a clear message that we will never tolerate genocide or other crimes against humanity in the future.
Senator McCain: I fear that in Darfur the United States is once again repeating the mistakes it made in Bosnia and Rwanda. The genocide in Darfur demands US leadership. My administration will consider the use of all elements of American power to stop the outrageous acts of human destruction that have unfolded there. I will also seek to establish a league of democracies which would form the core of an international order of peace based on freedom. It could act where the UN fails to act. It could relieve some human suffering in places like Darfur and other places in the world where people are so badly suffering. Democracies united with common values and common principals can work together and improve this world It’s our obligation handed down to us by or founding fathers that all of us are created equal and endowed with certain in inalienable rights.
This question was submitted by 24 year old, Anne J., of California. She asks: “Dear Senators McCain and Obama - Both of you have talked about your plans to lower the cost of health care. However, a less often addressed issue is the discrimination of the health care companies towards people with pre-existing conditions. This often means that coverage is denied to people who need it most. Please explain how your health care plan(s) will address this issue.”
Senator Obama: As President one of my highest priorities will be finally keeping the promise of affordable accessible healthcare for every American. This is personal for me. My mother died of ovarian cancer in the prime of her life. And at a time when she should have been focused on getting well she was lying in a hospital bed arguing with her insurance company because they refused to cover her treatment, so I know something about the heartbreak caused by our health care system.
There’s a lot that my opponent doesn’t tell you about his healthcare plan like the fact that won’t do a thing to stop insurance companies from discriminating against you if you have a pre-existing condition. My plan will outlaw an insurance company’s discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies spend 50 billion a year on lab rat efforts to cherry pick the healthiest patients and avoid covering everyone else. I will put an end to this practice once and for all and that’s how we’ll guarantee our health care system works fairly for American families.
Senator McCain: A critical part of my health care plan is providing coverage for all Americans with pre-existing conditions. No Americans should be denied insurance simply because of a pre-existing condition. I’ll create a new nonprofit guaranteed access plan or GAP to help those who have trouble getting insurance. I’ll provide no funding and guidance to states to create these plans, allowing people who are denied coverage currently to buy policies at affordable prices. This wouldn’t be a new Federal entitlement program, but rather a partnership between the Federal Government, the states, the insurers, patients, and the medical community. It would be reasonable limits on premiums. Additional assistance would be available to help people with lower incomes. Working together we can make sure that all of those Americans with pre existing conditions have coverage with out creating the new big government European style healthcare that Senator Obama favors.
This question was submitted by 21 year old, David M., of Iowa, and from 31 year old Jenny B., of Arizona. They ask, “Electronic voting machines have been shown to be inaccurate, with some not leaving a verifiable paper trail, making a recount impossible. Many Americans object to the continued existence of The Electoral College in The Information Age, and to the exclusion of third-party candidates in the Presidential Debates sponsored by the CPD. What will you do to ensure that the Election process is democratic and that my vote will be counted in this election, or the next?”
Senator Obama: Today over 40 years after the passage of the voting rights act we must renew our commitment to make sure every eligible American can exercise his or her fundamental right to vote. We have to prevent the problems we’ve seen in recent elections from happening again. We’ve seen political operatives purge voters from registration roles for no legitimate reason, prevent eligible ex-felons from casting ballots, distribute polling equipment unevenly, and deceive voter about the time, location, and rules of elections. Sadly, these efforts have been directed primarily at minorities, the disabled, low income individuals, and other historically disenfranchised groups. We need to enforce critical requirements like state wide registration databases. We need to make sure polling equipment is distributed equitably and that it works, and we need to make sure that every voter can make their voice heard without fear or intimidation. Your vote must be counted, but remember your voice wont be heard if you don’t show up to vote.
Senator McCain: I believe that the right to vote is the most sacred right we have. I will never tolerate a system that disenfranchises any of our citizens that are legally entitled to vote. Law enforcement must me energetic in prosecuting both voter fraud and voter suppression. As President I will make sure that my justice department treats the right to vote with the respect and vigilant that it deserves and you deserve and is one of your most fundamental rights as well.
Let me point our that Senator Obama supports a bill sponsored by the Union Bosses that allows a union organizer, a union boss to come to someone’s home and sign them up rather then respecting their right to going in to the ballot booth and preserving the fundamental right of every worker in America to in the ballot booth and with privacy to determine whether they want to join a union or not. This is a very dangerous proposal being supported by Senator Obama.
This question was submitted by 22 year, old Tinbete E., of California. He asks: “The United States currently has 50 percent of the world's prison population, a disproportionate amount of whom are minority youth with limited access to education and economic opportunities. Yet, in our higher education systems, there is an under representation of minority students. How do you feel about this reality and what proactive policies could alleviate this imbalance?”
Senator Obama: In a global economy where good jobs can be located anywhere there is an internet connection the most valuable skill you can sell is you knowledge. That’s why a college education is so important. It’s not only a pathway to opportunity it’s a prerequisite. Under my plan we’ll finally put a college degree in reach to anyone that wants one by providing a 4,000 dollar tax credit to any middle class student willing to serve their community our their country.
We’ll also increase the number of students taking college level courses in high school, particularly in low income communities. We’ll expand innovation and public school choice by supporting charter schools and investing in the schools of tomorrow. And we’ll put a quality teacher in every class room. Because to insure that more minority schools go to college we have to improve drop out rates and insure that students graduate high school ready for college or a career. That’s how we’ll insure that a college education isn’t a luxury reserved for the few, but an option for anyone willing to work for it.
Senator McCain: I’ve said many times that education is the civil rights issue of the 21st century. That’s why I’ve proposed comprehensive education reform, reform that focuses on those schools and students facing the most challenging circumstances. I want to expand access to higher education, by simplifying our existing patchwork of taxes credits, make it easier for families to obtain the financial aid they are entitled to. All of these programs, all of these reforms will work towards fixing the imbalance between low income and well off children in educational success.
I also believe that prisoner reintroduction and assistance programs are essential to reducing recidivisms giving young people a second chance to succeed. I’ve supported legislation which funds programs, many of them faith based, which prepares prisoners for the transition from prison to society by providing job training, counseling, mentors, counseling, and more. I believe that it is on all of our best interest to have parents with children in the home rather then in prison and citizens contributing rather then taking from the community.
This question was submitted by 20 year, old Jacob S., of Tennessee. He asks: “I think an important quality in a leader is being able to admit when he or she was wrong on an issue, and adjust his or her stance accordingly in light of new information. What is the policy position you most regret taking over your years of public service and why?”
Senator Obama: That’s a great question Jacob. When I think back on it I think a good example is welfare reform. When President Clinton initially signed the welfare reform bill in 1996, I was concerned that it could have disastrous results for the working poor. At the time I was working the Illinois legislature to make sure that we were providing childcare and health care and other support services for the women who were going to be kicked off the roles after a certain time.
Welfare reforms worked better then a lot of people anticipated, myself included. And what it proved is that we need to have work as the center piece of social policies. Not only because we need to create good paying jobs, but because there’s an intrinsic dignity to having a job and that’s why we need to jump start the job creation now. A good paying job provides a sense of purpose, a sense that you’re making a contribution no matter how small to the well being of the country as a whole. America’s very promise is that in this country opportunity is open to anyone who is willing to work for it. That’s why I’m running for president, to restore that promise for all Americans.
Senator McCain: I’ve been an imperfect public servant and there are more then a few positions that I’ve taken and later regretted, but the one that stands out most in my mind is my terribly mistaken vote against a holiday recognizing Dr. Martin Luther King way back in 1983 when I was a new rep congressman in the House of Representatives. I was wrong and eventually realized that in time to give full support for a state holiday in Arizona honoring Dr. King. We can all be a little late sometimes in doing the right thing and Dr. King understood this about his fellow Americans, but he knew us well that in the long term confidence in the reasonability in good heart of America is always well-placed.
This question was submitted by 18 year old, Hady M., of Florida. She asks: “The Brookings Institution-Urban Institute Tax Policy Center has found that Senator Obama's fiscal policy would increase the national debt by $3.5 trillion by 2018, while Senator McCain's policy would increase the national debt by $5 trillion by 2018. This is going to be a huge burden on my generation and the future generations. Would you not agree that fiscal solvency and stable money are far more important in the long run, than keeping taxes low or continuing entitlement policies, as both of you, to differing degrees, have proposed?”
Senator Obama: I believe that we can provide middle class tax relief that American’s need, while restoring fiscal reasonability and reducing the deficit. After the first economic expansion on record in which families have seen real incomes decline by 2000 dollars and as families are seeing the cost of health insurances, gas prices, and college tuition all going up we must provide middle income tax relief to help you and your families maintain economic security and invest in their futures.
Under my plan 95 percent of workers and their families will receive a 1000 dollar tax cut. As we face the most serious economic crisis since the great depression we cant just demand accountability on Wall Street we also must demand it in Washington. As President I will go through the entire budget line by line eliminating programs that don’t work and aren’t needed so we put an end to runaway spending and record deficits. Starting with ending a war in Iraq that costs 10 billion dollars a month, while Iraqis are sitting on a 79 billion dollar surplus. My plan will actually reduce the deficit relative to its current level because we can’t afford to mortgage your future on another mountain of debt.
Senator McCain: You know my friends I fundamentally disagree with the analysis of the tax policy center. For example this analysis of the tax policy center does not incorporate the impact of policies of creating jobs. It doesn’t attempt to incorporate reduction in the growth of spending. No analysis that focuses exclusively on revenues can claim to accurately assess the outlook for the deficit or debt. My friends, I believe that raising your taxes is not the way to improving our economy. For example, my healthcare plan is budget neutral over ten years but the tax policy center claims otherwise.
I have committed to a balanced budget hopefully by the end of my first term. We simply cannot leave a massive debt burden to our children and grandchildren. For that reason I think that Senator Obama is highly misguided in establishing huge new entitlement programs that will be impossible to afford down the road. If I’m elected president I will slash wasteful spending by freezing most discretionary spending my first year and conducting a top down review. I’ll use my veto pen to eliminate pork barrel spending and I’ll reach across the isle to finally reform social security in a way the preserves current benefits while making absolvent down the road. We owe that to your generation.
This question was submitted by 18 year old, Kristan C., of California. She asks: Senators Obama and McCain - Compared to other developed nations, the United States still continues to have a comparatively high unintentional pregnancy rate that can largely be attributed to both the lack of comprehensive sexual education in most schools as well as the lack of contraceptive/alternative resources to young women and men. Senators, what are your views of reproductive rights in America, and how will you work to provide better sex education as AIDS and other venereal diseases become more prevalent in America.”
Senator Obama: Regardless of ideology we can all agree that it is time to turn the page on the policies that fail to deal with the tragedy of 10,000 teenagers getting a STD everyday in this country, of 55 contracting HIV, and another 2400 becoming pregnant. We need to help people make choices about what happens before pregnancy.
It’s a false argument to say that the only way to prevent disease and unintended pregnancies is abstinence education; just as it a false argument to say that the only way is through contraception. There is a moral component to prevention. As parents, family members, or friends we need to encourage young people to show reverence towards sexuality and intimacy. But we must not prevent teenage girls from making informed decisions because of lack of access to birth control or a lifetime of illnesses because she doesn’t understand how to protect herself. That’s just common sense.
That’s why I was an original co-sponsor of the prevention first act, which would guarantee contraceptive coverage, provide sex education in our schools, and offer rape victims factually accurate information about emergency contraception. And finally I believe strongly in reproductive choice. I recognize that abortion is a divisive issue and I will always respect those that disagree with me. As President I will make preserving women’s rights under Roe a priority.
Senator McCain: I believe the that the noblest words ever written were by our founding fathers who said we hold these truths to be self evident that all people are created equal and endowed by their creator certain inalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I believe that applies to the unborn as well as the born and I believe that life begins at conception. But I also understand we have to change the culture of America. I believe that we have to show a woman, a young woman who faces this very very difficult challenge that we will show her compassion and we will show courage. Courage to bring this unborn child in to the world and the compassion that we will have to provide for her the dramatic expansion of adoptive services throughout America.
Cindy and I are proud parents of an adoptive child. It has been a great joy of our life. And I’m confident that we will over time be able to convince people that every human life is precious. Senator Obama said and voted against a bill in Illinois State Senate that would ban partial birth abortion. He even voted against a bill that if a child is born as a result of a failed abortion attempt that he voted against providing immediate medical services. My friends that’s not the position of pro-life or most pro-choice people in America. I’ll bring America together on this issue, we will have compassion, we will extend love to every human life, and we will try and protect the rights of the unborn as well as the born.
This question was submitted by 29 year old, David L., of Indiana, and from 20 year old, Holly B., of California. They ask: “In your view, how should The Full Faith and Credit Clause in the US Constitution apply to legal marriages of gay and lesbian persons? Should they, as their straight counterparts, have their marriages recognized even in states where it would be illegal for them to obtain a marriage license? And if you become President, how would you help the LGBT community with other issues that are important to us, too, such as health care and discrimination in the work place?”
Senator Obama: I’m running for president to build on America that lives up to our founding promise of equality for all, a promise that extends to our gay brothers and sisters. Throughout my career I have fought to eliminate discrimination against LGBT Americans.
As president I’ll support the complete repeal of don’t ask don’t tell, I’ll pass the Workplace Non-Discrimination act to outlaw workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and I will place the full weight of my administration behind in acting the Matthew Shepard Act to out law hate crimes.
I will urge states to treat same sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws. And while I oppose same sex marriage and believe that civil unions represent the best way to secure that equal treatment I do not believe the federal government should stand in the way of states that want to decide on their own want to decide how to best pursue equality for gay and lesbian couples. The full faith and credit clause has never been interpreted to require Mississippi to recognize same sex marriages entered in to in Massachusetts for example, which is one of the reasons I have said the Defensive Marriage Act is unnecessary in that regard and should be repealed.
Senator McCain: I believe that same sex marriage is an issue that each state should decide for itself through its democratically elected legislature. That principal could be undermined if one state could effectively impose gay marriage on other states. That’s why I supported the Defensive Marriage Act, which said that stated do not have to give the same effect to same sex marriages from other states. That law was passed under congresses constitutional authority and under the Full Faith and Credit Clause to determine what effects states must give the laws of other states.
I have plan for serious healthcare reform that will make healthcare more affordable more portable and more accessible for all Americans. My opponent has proposed a massive new government bureaucracy that will impose an enormous burden on the tax payer, take healthcare decisions out of the hands of consumers, and reduce quality. I think a better idea is to give all Americans a generous refundable tax credit in other words cash that they can use to buy health insurance either through their employers or in the individual market.
I strongly oppose discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but I do not think the right answer is to let people bring lawsuits. Many American employers voluntarily adhere to non-discrimination policies and I worry that a new way to sue would just be a windfall for plaintiff’s lawyers increasing costs on American businesses during difficult economic time’s especially small businesses.
This question was submitted by 31 year old, Tyler C., of North Carolina, and from 17 year old, Roy W., of Washington. They ask: “The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is a legally binding set of basic rights for minors. The only two countries which are not signatories to the CRC are Somalia and the United States. Somalia has not had a functioning government for some time. As President, would you seek the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child?”
Senator Obama: It’s important that the United States return to its position as a respected global leader and promoter of human rights. It’s embarrassing to find ourselves in the company of Somalia, a lawless land. I will review this and other treaties to ensure the United States resumes its global leadership in human rights.
Senator McCain: I strongly support the goal of this treaty, protecting the world’s most vulnerable children. That vital mission is especially important in developing nations where children are routinely subjected to unimaginable horrors like, forced conscription and genital mutilation. I know there are concerns about whether this particular treaty as currently drafted could be interpreted to broadly and wielded as a political weapon against America. Because I share the general goals of the treaty as President I will work with other nations to develop agreements and strategies to protect the world’s children which also protecting Americas sovereignty. I’m proud of America’s record and I’ll stand by it. We have a long way to go in amerce, of course, but I’m proud of America’s record and I’ll stand it up against any nation in the world.
This question was submitted by 17 year old, Cheneir W., of Georgia. He asks: “Sir, My Name is Cheneir W., I am 17 years old and from GA. I live in a small community that is already suffering from the economy. With the cutbacks that have happened in the past, my school does not have enough text books for each student to have one to take home and this year Gov. Sonny Perdue cut our school’s budget even further. My question is, what are you going to do to ensure I get the quality education I deserve and want, so that one day I might be standing in your shoes?”
Senator Obama: Real change means finally giving you and your classmate’s everything you need to have a fight chance to succeed in this world. That means fixing the failures of no child left behind and finally providing the funding that was promised, it means recruiting a new army of new teacher and giving them the support they need and the pay they deserve. But, it also means making every school in America a school of the future and that what we’ll do when I’m president. We’ll help schools integrate technology in to their curriculum. We’ll use new technologies to develop better tests so we can do a better job measuring how our kids are doing. We’ll make sure that more classrooms have computers and more schools have WiFi and we’ll teach our students not only math, science, and other core academic subjects, but teamwork, critical thinking, and the communication skills you need to compete for that good paying job.
The very promise of education in America is that no matter what we look like, or where we come from, or who are parents are each of us should have the opportunity to fulfill our God given potential. That’s the chance I was given and I’m running for President to guarantee that every child has that chance.
Senator McCain: As I’ve said I believe education is the civil rights issue of the 21st century. My education plan targets federal funds at schools like yours providing major incentives to hire better teachers, expand learning opportunities, and help all students learn and achieve. It’s simply unacceptable that students like you don’t have access to textbooks.
We also need to keep our economy growing so that states have the tax revenue they need to provide a world class education to their students. My plan is focused on growing the economy and creating jobs, by keeping taxes low on small businesses, providing healthcare to every American without creating a European style Bureaucracy, and lowering the price of energy for American consumers. I fear that under Senator Obama’s plan our economy would continue to stagnate, jobs would flow over seas, and our public services would suffer.
This question was submitted by 13 year old, Cheyenne R., of Nevada. She asks: “My dad is a veteran receiving medical care from the VA. How are you planning to make considerable changes to provide former soldiers like my Dad adequate care versus the sub-par care he is currently receiving? It saddens me to see him in so much pain and the VA won’t do anything about it.”
Senator Obama: Cheyenne, I want to thank your father for the service to this country and I want to thank you. We honor the service of all our men and women in uniform and we remember that when we send our soldier to war their families go with them. America has a sacred trust with those that serve in its uniform. As President I will keep that trust. It starts with the promise to provide high quality affordable health care for every single veteran like your father. I’ll put the VA at the cutting edge of healthcare delivery so that our veterans are getting the best care possible. We’ll make the VA a leader in specialty care so that the troops returning with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, and other injuries get the treatment they need. And we’ll stand up against proposals to ration care and reject the idea that the VA should only treat combat wounds. We cannot risk our veteran’s healthcare by turning the VA into just another health insurer. We need to make sure the VA is strong enough to treat every veteran who depends on it and that’s what I’ll do as President.
Senator McCain: Reforming our VA healthcare system is a priority for me. I’ve fought for veterans all my life and I will continue to do so. Recently, we passed legislation which would help our veterans. It’s the first legislative initiative in a long time. But lets be clear, we have a significant increase in PTSD, we have a significant increase in combat related wounds, and we also have a strain on the veterans administration. I want to give every veteran who has a routine healthcare need to go to the VA if they want to, but also a plastic card so that they can go out and get the healthcare that they need if it’s a routine healthcare they need.
Now we ought to focus our attention and expand dramatically both the military medical system and the VA in order to treat the PTSD, which unfortunately is the result of a very tough war. We got to make sure that all Americans know that we are giving them the care that they have earned because that’s not only our obligation to them, but as George Washington said many years ago young Americans will not server and they will know how previous generations were treated and their ability and their desire to serve the country will be directly related to see how previous generations are cared for. I know veterans I know war. I know the wounds of war. I’ll keep the peace, but meanwhile I’ll care for veterans and their families.
Why I Vote
The Walden University Presidential Youth Debate's "Why I Vote" offers a little extra inspiration to get you to the polls on Election Day, as well as a chance to have your own best reason to vote published in a book with other inspired Americans, including:
...former US Poet Laureate and Author of the new book Ballistics (Random House). You can click here to read why Billy Collins says he votes, or you can click here to have him read to you - from his new book featured in the latest video episode of Open-Door Poetry from Borders, our partner.
- 9/29 — extended to 4pm (ET). We stop accepting questions and allow our moderators and moderating panel organizations to choose the top 20 questions from 18-35 year olds and the top 5 from 13-17 year-old "Future Voters."
- 9/30 — Top 20 questions are posted here for 18-35 year olds to choose the 10 they most want answered, and the top 5 from 13-17 year olds are posted so "Future Voters" can choose the 2 they most want answered. Question voting ends at 10 PM
- 10/1 — 8 AM (ET). Along with one question each from our two moderators, we send the candidates the 14 questions young Americans themselves have chosen as most important to them.
- 10/17 — By 5 PM (ET). we receive all the video responses – each candidate's 14 well-thought-out, accurate answers, limiting candidates to 2 minute responses to each question. Walden University begins editing the debate together, leaving the answers themselves untouched. Each video question and answer will also be put into individual segments so people will have the option to view them individually or as one complete show.
- 10/22 — The 90-minute, Walden University Presidential Youth Debate airs at 1 PM (ET), giving young Americans the answers they need to vote for the future they want, and giving all Americans their last pre-Election look at where the candidates stand on the same exact issues.