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Student Democrats and Republicans debate immigration, tax cuts



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Raegan Davis, president of IU College Democrats, debates with Nathan Mirsky of IU College Republicans about the Tel Aviv U.S. Embassy’s move to Jerusalem during the debate Oct. 24 in Lindley Hall. Andrew Williams

IU College Democrats and Republicans debated Wednesday night over immigration, tax cuts and the move of the United States’ Israeli embassy. 

Each group had a different representative debate each topic, and each had three minutes to speak, two minutes to cross-examine and two minutes for a closing statement. There was also a five minute section after each topic for audience questions. The debate is normally moderated by Senior Lecturer Brian Delong each year, but he wasn’t able to make it. Instead, the groups timed themselves. 

In May 2018, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. embassy to Israel was moving from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which sparked debate among the two major political parties.

The move, Republican Nathan Mirsky said, solidified the United States’ relationship with Israel as an ally in the Middle East. Mirsky said the move fulfilled a 23 year-long promise made by the Clinton administration in the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act. 

“The most glaring assumption is that Trump came up with this law, but that is, in fact, false,” Mirsky said.

Democrat Raegan Davis argued against the move, saying some estimates have the total move costing $1 billion. 

“It’s expensive and makes peace extremely less likely,” Davis said.

Since the announcement, 205 Palestinians have died while protesting the move, according to Al Jazeera. Moving the embassy back to Tel Aviv would honor those people, Davis said.

“It would recognize their sacrifices were not in vain,” Davis said. 

Jason Apple represented the College Republicans at IU when discussing immigration laws, arguing for a merit-based immigration program, biometric entry and exit from the U.S. and securing the southern border.

However, when asked if he supports the building of a wall, Apple said he purposely avoided that word because it polarizes people. Also, in some mountainous areas, a wall would be impossible, Apple said.

Arguing for the IU College Democrats on immigration was Charlotte Mellow, who said the current treatment of immigrants in this country is immoral. Mellow proposed the government immediately abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as well as end family separation. 

“We have a major obligation to take care of these refugees fleeing for their lives,” Mellow said. 

Mellow also said immigration limits need to stop being lowered, because that has not deterred any immigrants from entering the country.

“They are still coming here because they have no other options,” Mellow said. “They can’t afford to come here by plane.”

The final topic of the debate was the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The debate immediately turned to who benefits from the bill. 

Republican Matt Bludgen said the act puts money into the hands of Americans, which is when the country thrives most. 

“When the people have the money, the people have the power and the people win,” Bludgen said.

Democrat Jack Parke cited a Brookings Institution analysis of the act that said most American homes will be far worse off now than if this bill hadn’t passed. The act disproportionately benefits rich Americans, Parke said. 

The act currently has a 40.3 percent approval rating, according to RealClearPolitics. 

“Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell outdid themselves with this bill,” Parke said. “It has to be so incredibly difficult to make a bill that is so universally unpopular.”

Following the third debate topic, one audience member asked the two groups to say something nice about the other. 

“I like your suit,” Parke said to Bludgen.

“I like yours too,” Bludgen said. 

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