The GW College Democrats and College Republicans hosted a professor debate on tax policy and health care in the Marvin Center Amphitheater Monday night. Political science professors Robert Stoker represented the Democrats and professor Robert Betz debated for the Republicans. This was the second debate of the year.
The night began slow as student moderator Kevin Frey posed the first two questions on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and potential cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to Stoker with the same succinct rebuttal provided by Betz: “I agree.”
Just as audience members started to grow weary about the lack of shouting and disagreements, Social Security made its entrance.
“Well so now we’ve reached the point that we can actually debate,” said Stoker in response to Betz’s notion that raising the retirement age for Social Security eligibility was a “stupid easy” reform to the program. “The reason I would oppose that particular idea for constraining Social Security spending is that poor folks tend to live a less long life than more affluent folks and so when you raise the retirement age, what you’re in essence doing is reducing Social Security spending primarily on the backs of poor folks,” countered Stoker.
The two also disagreed on Obamacare.
“I think that Obamacare has been a disaster,” Betz rebutted to Stoker’s claim that the program has been a success. “I think that there are three problems with health care,” said Betz. “I think that there is cost control, which the Affordable Care Act did not address.”
Despite policy disputes, the friendship and respect the two share did shine at moments.
“Stoker for President,” Betz exclaimed. “If any of you get the opportunity to take one of Robert Stoker’s classes, do it.”
The two professors’ history at GW eventually came to light. “I like to teach because I enjoy my students,” said Stoker. “I am particularly proud of one of my former students, Robert Betz.”
When asked about their thoughts on the debate, both professors thought fondly of the experience. “I always enjoy talking about the issues with Betz,” said Stoker.
The two student political organization leaders were also pleased with the evening.
“We thought this was a really fascinating event,” said incoming College Republicans Chair Alex Pollock. “Two incredible intellectuals gave their well-reasoned thoughts on the day’s political issues and I thought that everyone learned a tremendous amount.”
The College Democrats were equally excited after the debate. “I thought it was a lively discussion,” said College Democrats President Omeed Firouzi. “The audience is kind of privy to really terrific minds who understand the political system and welfare policy a lot better than anyone so I think it’s the kind of unique opportunity you really would find only at GW.”