Answer the following questions to see who you should vote for in the 2020 Presidential election.
In January 2014, 102 measles cases linked to an outbreak at Disneyland were reported in 14 states. The outbreak alarmed the CDC, which declared the disease eliminated in the U.S. in the year 2000. Many health officials have tied the outbreak to the rising number of unvaccinated children under the age of 12. Proponents of a mandate argue that vaccines are necessary in order to insure herd immunity against preventable diseases. Herd immunity protects people who are unable to get vaccines due to their age or health condition. Opponents of a mandate believe the government should not be able to decide which vaccines their children should receive. Some opponents also believe there is a link between vaccinations and autism and vaccinating their children will have destructive consequences on their early childhood development.
Nuclear power is the use of nuclear reactions that release energy to generate heat, which most frequently is then used in steam turbines to produce electricity in a nuclear power station. In the U.S. 100 nuclear reactors provide 20% of the country's energy. Proponents argue that nuclear energy is now safe and emits much less carbon emissions than coal plants. Opponents argue that recent nuclear disasters in Japan prove that nuclear power is far from safe.
Currently, GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) foods in the United States are not classified differently by the FDA and do not require labeling. Although no reports of ill effects from GMO foods have been documented, advocacy groups such as Greenpeace and the Organic Consumers Association argue that past studies cannot be trusted because they were sponsored by pro-GMO companies and do not measure the long-term effects on humans, the environment, and nature. Opponents argue that labeling adds an unfounded stigma over organic foods and that if a nutritional or allergenic difference were found, current FDA regulations would already require a label.
In 2022 Congress’ increased NASA’s annual budget by 3% to about $24 billion, short of the 7% increase the Biden administration sought. The budget includes $1.5 billion in funds for the moon-lander program which would, for the first time in decades, take astronauts back to the lunar surface.
Planned Parenthood is a non-profit organization that provides reproductive health services in the United States and internationally. Each year federal and state governments provide the organization with $528 million in funding (40% of its annual budget). The majority of this funding comes from Medicaid which subsidizes reproductive healthcare for low-income women. In 2014, abortions accounted for 3% of the services they provided. The majority of the other services include screening for and treating sexually transmitted diseases and infections and providing contraception. Proponents of funding argue that federal funding for Planned Parenthood does not pay for abortions and that the vast majority of government funding that the organization receives is through Medicaid reimbursements. Opponents of funding argue that the government should not fund any organizations that provide abortions.
Abortion is a medical procedure resulting in the termination of a human pregnancy and death of a fetus. Abortion was banned in 30 states until the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. The ruling made abortion legal in all 50 states but gave them regulatory powers over when abortions could be performed during a pregnancy. On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade in the case Dobbs v. Jackson. The court ruled that the substantive right to abortion was not “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history or tradition”, nor considered a right when the Due Process Clause was ratified in 1868.
On August 1st, 2012 the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) required all health insurers and employers to cover the cost of contraceptives in their health insurance plans. The provision ecempted religious organizations and churches. In 2017 the Trump administration issued a rule that allowed a much broader set of employers to opt out of offering coverage for birth control, making moot a “workaround’’ designed by the Obama administration that allowed women in some cases to obtain coverage even if their employers had declined to offer it directly. In July 2022 the US House of Representatives passed a bill which overturned the Trump rule and protect access to contraception on a federal level. The legislation protects access to any contraceptive device, including all contraceptive products approved by the Food and Drug Administration, including intrauterine devices known as IUDs and emergency contraception such as Plan B.
Gender identity is defined as a personal conception of oneself as male, female, both, or neither. In 2014, President Obama signed an executive order barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity among federal contractors. The order covered employers who perform federal work and protected an estimated 20 percent of American workers. Opponents included religious groups, who argued that the order would prevent them from receiving federal money or contracts if they could not meet the new guidelines because of their beliefs. Proponents argue that the order was necessary to protect millions of LGBT people whose rights were threatened after the Supreme Court ruled in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores case. In that ruling, the court said that family-run corporations with religious objections could be exempted from providing employees with insurance coverage for contraception.
On June 26, 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the denial of marriage licenses violated the Due Process and the Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The ruling made same sex marriage legal in all 50 U.S. States.
In the U.S. rules vary from state to state. In Idaho, Nebraska, Indiana, North Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas students must play on the team that matches their birth certificate, have undergone surgery or have had extended hormone therapy. The NCAA requires one year of testosterone suppression. In February 2019 Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) asked Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to investigate USA Powerlifting over its rule barring biological males from competing in women’s events. In 2016 the International Olympic committee ruled that transgender athletes can compete in the Olympics without undergoing sex reassignment surgery. In 2018 the International Association of Athletics Federations, track’s governing body, ruled that women who have more than 5 nano-mols per liter of testosterone in their blood—like South African sprinter and Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya—must either compete against men, or take medication to reduce their natural testosterone levels. The IAAF stated that women in the five-plus category have a “difference of sexual development.” The ruling cited a 2017 study by French researchers as proof that female athletes with testosterone closer to men do better in certain events: 400 meters, 800 meters, 1,500 meters, and the mile. "Our evidence and data show that testosterone, either naturally produced or artificially inserted into the body, provides significant performance advantages in female athletes," said IAAF President Sebastian Coe in a statement.
In 1993 the federal government passed the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The law was intended to protect Native Americans in danger of losing their jobs because of religious ceremonies that involved the illegal drug peyote. In 1997 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Congress overstepped its bounds in passing RFRA in 1993, and that the law applied only to federal laws, not to those passed by the states. Since then 22 U.S. states have passed their own versions of the “religious freedom” laws. Supporters of the law argue that the government shouldn’t force religious businesses and churches to serve customers who participate in lifestyles contrary to their owners’ beliefs. Proponents of the law argue that the political context has changed since 1992 and states are now passing their own versions of the law with the intent of discriminating against gay and lesbian couples.
A gun buyback program is one where the government purchases guns from private citizens. The goal of these programs is to reduce the number of guns owned by private citizens. In most gun buyback programs the police are the agents buying the guns. In 2019 Presidential candidates Joe Biden, Beto O’Rourke, Kamala Harris and Julian Castro each proposed a mandatory gun buyback program where the federal government would purchase AK-47’s and AR-15’s from private citizens. In the past U.S. gun buyback programs have been implemented by state and city governments.
LGBT adoption is the adoption of children by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. This may be in the form of a joint adoption by a same-sex couple, adoption by one partner of a same-sex couple of the other’s biological child (step-child adoption) and adoption by a single LGBT person. Joint adoption by same-sex couples is legal in 25 countries. In September 2022 a federal district court ruled that the New York State government could not shut down a faith-based adoption provider which banned LGBT couples from using its adoption services. Opponents of LGBT adoption question whether same-sex couples have the ability to be adequate parents while other opponents question whether natural law implies that children of adoption possess a natural right to be raised by heterosexual parents. Since constitutions and statutes usually fail to address the adoption rights of LGBT persons, judicial decisions often determine whether they can serve as parents either individually or as couples.
In September 2020 the Trump administration issued an executive order which prohibited federal agencies, companies with federal contracts and recipients of federal grants from participating in training that “promotes race or sex-stereotyping or scapegoating.” Prohhibted topics include “divisive concepts” in which one race or sex is inherently superior to another; the U.S. is fundamentally racist or sexist and a person should feel some form of psychological distress on account of their race or sex. In January 2021 President Biden revoked the executive order and issued a new order which affirmed that “equal opportunity is the bedrock of American democracy, and our diversity in one of our country’s greatest strengths.”
In some progressive universities, professors provide “trigger warnings” to students before discussing sensitive topics, emotionally charged issues, or events that may trigger post-traumatic stress. “Safe spaces” are places where students can gather to avoid a speaker or event that offends them.
In the United States, women hold 19.2 percent of board seats of companies listed in the Standard and Poors directory. In 2018 California became the first U.S. state to require companies based within its borders to put female directors on their boards. Companies with at least five directors would need to have two or three female directors, depending on the size of the board, according to the new law. Those that don’t would face financial penalties. In July 2022 a judge in the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles ruled that the law was unconstitutional because it violated the equal protection clause of the state’s constitution, according to a copy of the verdict.
In 1961, the South Carolina State Government passed a law mandating that the confederate flag be flown on the ground of its state capitol building. The law was passed to commemorate the centennial of the Civil War assault on Fort Sumter. Opponents argue that the flag is a political symbol that represents racial inequality and should be removed after the shooting deaths of nine African American church members in June 2015. Proponents argue that the flag is an important historical symbol that commemorates the state’s role in the Civil War.
The death penalty or capital punishment is the punishment by death for a crime. Currently 58 countries worldwide allow the death penalty (including the U.S.) while 97 countries have outlawed it. Since the 1970s executions in the U.S. have declined every year. In 2021 five states and the federal government carried out 11 executions. The decline is part of a decadeslong trend as the costs associated with seeking the death penalty, the lengthy appeals process often associated with capital punishment, concerns about executing the innocent and a long-term decline in crime rates have caused many prosecutors and legislators in the U.S. to pull back from capital punishment.
In 1956, Congress passed a resolution declaring “IN GOD WE TRUST” as the national motto of the United States. President Eisenhower signed the law and the motto was added to paper money beginning in 1957. Opponents argue that the motto violates the U.S. Constitution since it is a clear violation of the separation of church and state. Proponents argue that it does not prefer one religious denomination over another.
In December 2015, the Pentagon announced that all combat roles would be opened to women. The roles include driving tanks, firing mortars, and leading infantry soldiers into combat. Women would also be able to serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Marine Corps Infantry and Air Force parajumpers. Proponents of women in combat argue that women have been serving in Afghanistan and Iraq for 15 years and preventing them from combat operations is discriminatory. Opponents argue that allowing women to serve in these roles would limit the military's ability to fight in combat situations.
In April 2021 the legislature of the U.S. State of Arkansas introduced a bill that prohibited doctors from providing gender-transition treatments to people under 18 years old. The bill would make it a felony for doctors to administer puberty blockers, hormones and gender-reaffirming surgery to anyone under the age of 18. Opponents of the bill argue that it is an assault on transgender rights and that transition treatments are a private matter that should be decided between parents, their children and doctors. Supporters of the bill argue that children are too young to make the decision to receive gender transition treatment and only adults over the age of 18 should be allowed to do so.
Hate speech is defined as public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence towards a person or group based on something such as race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation. In the 2017 US Supreme Court Case Matal v. Tam the Court ruled in favor of Asian-American musician Simon Tam. Tam filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Patent and Trademark office after it rejected a trademark application for his band The Slants. Tam stated that he chose to give that name to his band in order to “reclaim” and to “take ownership” of Asian stereotypes. The U.S. Patent and Trademark office refused to register Tam’s trademark because they determined it to be disparaging to “persons of Asian descent.” The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Tam after the justices unanimously reaffirmed that there is effectively no “hate speech” exception to the free speech rights protected by the First Amendment. The Court also ruled that the U.S. government may not discriminate against speech based on the speaker’s viewpoint.
From 2020 – 2022 six US states introduced bills that would make sleeping on public property a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and a month in jail. In 2021 Texas became the first state to pass a statewide law which banned public homeless encampments statewide and pulled state grant funds from non-compliant cities. Proponents of these laws argue that that leaving tens of thousands of Americans—often with severe mental illness or substance use problems—on the streets for decades until they can all be provided with permanent, supportive housing is not a viable or humane model. Opponents argue that the laws do not provide housing solutions and simply encourage homeless people to relocate to other states.
In 2015 U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump issued a proposal to build a wall along the Mexico-U.S. border. The wall would extend along the 1,900 mile border and would prevent illegal goods and people from entering the U.S. In 2013 the Government Accountability Office reported that the border patrol had intercepted 61% of individuals who had attempted to cross the border that year. Analysts say that building a wall along the entire border is impossible since it parts of it contain rocky, uneven terrain. Proponents argue that the wall will cut down on the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs into the U.S. Opponents argue that the wall is impossible to build and illegal immigration into the U.S. has declined significantly since the 2008 financial crisis.
Illegal immigrants, as well as legal immigrants in the country less than five years, are not eligible for free healthcare through Medicaid. A 2007 study estimated that less than 1 percent of Medicaid spending went to healthcare for illegal immigrants. Proponents of subsidized healthcare for immigrants argue that increased access to basic preventive care will lower the demand for costly emergency care. Opponents argue that immigrants in the healthcare system run the risk of becoming "permanent patients," because they have no relatives, insurance or an established address where they can go once released.
Currently sixteen states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington) allow illegal immigrants to pay the same in-state tuition rates as other residents of the state. To qualify, students must have attended a school in the state for a certain number of years, have graduated high school in the state, have confirmed they are applying for legal citizenship.
The 14th amendment of the U.S. constitution states that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” Opponents of birth right citizenship argue that the 14th amendment is not clear since it does not specifically state that babies born to parents who were in the United States unlawfully were automatically citizens. Proponents argue that overturning the 14th amendment would increase the number of undocumented immigrants with each child born here, cost the U.S. taxpayers billions, and reduce the tax base.
At a December 7th campaign stop in South Carolina, Presidential candidate Donald Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the country. The announcement sparked outrage from across the political spectrum with Republicans and Democrats both deeming it unconstitutional. Proponents argue that the government has little idea who is entering the U.S. through its current immigration system and that a temporary ban on Muslims is necessary after the terrorist attack in California. Opponents argue that the proposed ban is unconstitutional and racist towards Muslims.
Amnesty is an act by passed by the federal government which grants immunity from immigration laws to undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. Various levels of criteria have been proposed for immigrants to be granted amnesty including proof of employment and willingness to pay taxes.
A sanctuary city is a city that adopts local policies designed to not prosecute people solely for being an undocumented individual in the country in which they are currently living. In January 2017, President Trump issued an executive order that would withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities. In April 2017 a federal judge ruled that Trump’s order was unconstitutional.
On October 7, 2013 California Governor Jerry Brown signed a state bill prohibiting law-enforcement officials from detaining an individual on the basis of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold after that person becomes eligible for release, unless he or she has been charged with or convicted of certain crimes, including violent felonies.
The U.S. nationality law requires applicants to have a working knowledge of the English language in order achieve citizenship. In 1990 the government passed exceptions to this requirement for older applicants and those with mental or physical disabilities.
Skilled temporary work visas are usually given to foreign scientists, engineers, programmers, architects, executives, and other positions or fields where demand outpaces supply. Most businesses argue that hiring skilled foreign workers allows them to competitively fill positions which are in high demand. Opponents argue that skilled immigrants decrease middle class wages and job tenure.
In 2021 the U.S. Border Patrol reported 1,659,206 encounters with migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, narrowly exceeding the prior highs of 1,643,679 in 2000 and 1,615,844 in 1986. The Border Patrol reported 608,037 encounters with Mexican nationals in 2021, accounting for 37% of the total. The remaining 1,051,169 encounters, or 63%, involved people from countries other than Mexico – by far the highest total for non-Mexican nationals in CBP records dating back to 2000. Congress has passed at least four laws since 1986 authorizing increases in Border Patrol personnel. The number of border patrol agents on the southwest border has grown from 2,268 in 1980 to 25,914 in 2021. Border fencing has increased from 14 miles in 1990 to 651 miles today. Proponents argue that too many immigrants cross our border every year and anyone entering the U.S. from a foreign country should pass through customs and have a valid visa. Opponents of stronger border controls argue the majority of illegal entrants are migrants seeking temporary work and pose no threat to national security.
The American Civics test is an examination that all immigrants must pass to gain U.S. citizenship. The test asks 10 randomly selected questions which cover U.S. history, the constitution and government. In 2015 Arizona became the first state to require High School students to pass the test before they graduate.
In 2015 the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the Establishing Mandatory Minimums for Illegal Reentry Act of 2015 (Kate’s Law.) The law was introduced after San Francisco 32 year old San Francisco resident Kathryn Steinle was shot and killed by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez on July 1, 2015. Lopez-Sanchez was an illegal immigrant from Mexico who had been deported on five separate occasions since 1991 and been charged with seven felony convictions. Since 1991 Lopez-Sanchez had been charged with seven felony convictions and deported five times by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. Although Lopez-Sanchez had several outstanding warrants in 2015 authorities were unable to deport him due to San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy which prevents law enforcement officials from questioning a resident’s immigration status. Proponents of sanctuary city laws argue that they enable illegal immigrants to report crimes without the fear of being reported. Opponents argue that sanctuary city laws provide encourage illegal immigration and prevent law enforcement authorities from detaining and deporting criminals.
Multiple citizenship, also called dual citizenship is a person's citizenship status, in which a person is concurrently regarded as a citizen of more than one state under the laws of those states. There is no international convention which determines the nationality or citizen status of a person, which is defined exclusively by national laws, which vary and can be inconsistent with each other. Some countries do not permit dual citizenship. Most countries that permit dual citizenship still may not recognize the other citizenship of its nationals within its own territory, for example, in relation to entry into the country, national service, duty to vote, etc.
When the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was enacted in 2010 it required all states to expand their Medicaid programs to include people with incomes slightly higher than those allowed under traditional Medicaid, as well as groups, like childless adults, that had not previously been covered. In 2012 the Supreme Court ruled that forcing States to expand their Medicaid coverage was unconstitutional. Since then 22 states have expanded their coverage and more than 35 have opted not to do so. Proponents of the expansion argue that it will lower healthcare costs for everyone by reducing the number of Americans without health insurance. Opponents argue that states should be allowed to run their own Medicaid programs without the intervention of the federal government.
The Affordable Care Act is a federal statute signed into law in 2010 that introduces a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s healthcare system. The act grants the federal government significant regulatory powers and price controls over U.S. medical service providers and insurance companies. The Act’s landmark provisions included an insurance mandate which prohibited insurers from denying coverage to individuals due to preexisting conditions and insurance requirements for individual children who did not have coverage via their families. The Act also required states to set up and maintain health insurance exchanges where individuals, families and small businesses can purchase private insurance plans. Individuals who remained uninsured would be subject to a fine tax with their annual tax returns. The fine clause was overturned in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 eliminated the fine for violating the individual mandate.
In September 2021 President Biden announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration would require businesses with 100 or more employees to make vaccination a condition of employment. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 authorizes OSHA to enact rules that are “reasonably necessary or appropriate to provide safe or healthful employment and places of employment.” The mandate applies to all employees, even those who work from home. Proponents of the mandate argue that this will help end the pandemic by achieving President Biden’s goal of vaccinating over 95% of Americans. Opponents argue that the rule is unconstitutional and cite evidence that people who already have natural immunity are at heightened risk of vaccine side effects caused by an augmented inflammatory response.
The World Health Organization was founded in 1948 and is a specialized agency of the United Nations whose main objective is “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.” The organization provides technical assistance to countries, sets international health standards and guidelines, and collects data on global health issues through the World Health Survey. The WHO has led global public health efforts including the development of an Ebola Vaccine and the near-eradication of polio and smallpox. The organization is run by a decision-making body composed of representatives from 194 countries. It is funded by voluntary contributions from member countries and private donors. In 2018 and 2019 the WHO had a $5 billion budget and the leading contributors were the United States (15%) , the EU (11%) and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation (9%). In July 2020 President Donald Trump notified the World Health Organization that the U.S. would withdraw all funding within 12 months. Trump accused the WHO of helping China cover up its role in the Covid-19 pandemic. In January 2021 President Biden signed letters retracting Trump’s decision to withdraw from WHO. He also appointed Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, to represent the United States on the WHO’s executive committee.
In January 2018, the Trump administration announced that it would allow U.S. states to require able-bodied adults to work in order to be eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs for low-income Americans. Each state determines its own requirements for Medicaid eligibility. In most states children from low-income households, pregnant women and low-income seniors are covered. Medicaid also offers benefits not normally covered by Medicare, like nursing home care and personal care services. The Trump administration said Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin had requested approval to test programs including job training, job search, education, volunteer activities and caregiving.
Single-payer healthcare is a system where every citizen pays the government to provide core healthcare services for all residents. Under this system the government may provide the care themselves or pay a private healthcare provider to do so. In a single-payer system all residents receive healthcare regardless of age, income or health status. Countries with single-payer healthcare systems include the U.K., Canada, Taiwan, Israel, France, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.
In September of 2016, US Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton released a proposal that would create an oversight panel that would protect U.S. consumers from large price hikes on long-available, lifesaving drugs. The proposal was in response to recent steep price increases on drugs including the AIDS drug Daraprim and the EpiPen. Proponents of drug price regulation argue that drug makers raise prices to benefit the value of their stock and invest little of their profits in the development and research of new drugs. Opponents of regulation argue that consumers rely on drug companies to develop new drugs and limiting prices will prevent new lifesaving drugs from being developed. Clinton's campaign cited Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC's raising the price of its AIDS drug Daraprim (pyrimethamine) and Mylan NV’s repeated steep price increases on EpiPen for severe allergy sufferers as “troubling” examples of price hikes that have attracted bipartisan congressional scrutiny.
In 2018, officials in the U.S. city of Philadelphia city proposed opening a “safe haven” in an effort to combat the city's heroin epidemic. In 2016 64,070 people died in the U.S. from drug overdoses - a 21% increase from 2015. 3/4 of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. are caused by the opioid class of drugs which includes prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl. To combat the epidemic cities including Vancouver, BC and Sydney, AUS opened safe havens where addicts can inject drugs under the supervision of medical professionals. The safe havens reduce the overdose death rate by insuring the addicted patients are given drugs that are not contaminated or poisoned. Since 2001 5,900 people have overdosed at a safe haven in Sydney, Australia but no one has died. Proponents argue that the safe havens are the only proven solution to lower the overdose fatality rate and prevent the spread of diseases like HIV-AIDS. Opponents argue that safe havens may encourage illegal drug use and re-direct funding from traditional treatment centers.
In 2019 the Trump administration proposed shifting billions of dollars from government-run veterans’ hospitals to private health care providers. The guidelines would make it easier for veterans to receive care in privately run hospitals and have the government pay for it. Veterans would also be allowed access to a system of proposed walk-in clinics, which would serve as a bridge between V.A. emergency rooms and private providers. Proponents argue that privatization is necessary because Veterans’ hospitals, which treat seven million patients annually, have struggled to see patients on time in recent years, hit by a double crush of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and aging Vietnam veterans. Opponents argue that switching vast numbers of veterans to private hospitals would strain care in the private sector and that costs for taxpayers could skyrocket. In addition, they say it could threaten the future of traditional veterans’ hospitals, some of which are already under review for consolidation or closing.
The government is currently prohibited by law from negotiating drug prices for Medicare. Medicare Part D is a federal government program which subsidizes the costs of prescriptions drugs for people enrolled in Medicare. Since it was approved by Congress in 2003 39 million Americans have enrolled in the program which now costs more than $80 billion per year. Opponents of Medicare Part D argue that it should be changed to allow the federal government to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies. They point out that the Veterans Affairs administration is allowed to negotiate prices and pays 40-58% less for drugs than Medicare does. Analysts estimate that the government would save up to $16 billion a year if they were permitted to negotiate drug prices. Proponents of Medicare D argue that the government should not interfere with prices set by private drug makers who use profits for the development and research of new drugs.
In 2022 lawmakers in the U.S. state of California passed legislation which empowered the state medical board to discipline doctors in the state who “disseminate misinformation or disinformation” that contradicts the “contemporary scientific consensus” or is “contrary to the standard of care.” Proponents of the law argue that doctors should be punished for spreading misinformation and that there is clear consensus on certain issues such as that apples contain sugar, measles is caused by a virus, and Down syndrome is caused by a chromosomal abnormality. Opponents argue that the law limits freedom of speech and scientific “consensus” often changes within mere months.
In February 2017, Congressional Republicans issued a proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The proposed plan would use tax credits to finance individual insurance purchases and cut federal payments to states which have been used to expand Medicaid. Conservatives who oppose the ACA argue that the plan did not go far enough in removing the government’s role in health insurance. They demanded that the new plan should remove the ACA requirement that health insurers could not discriminate against individuals with pre-existing conditions. Under the ACA health insurers cannot deny coverage or charge higher premiums to individuals who have pre-existing conditions. Opponents argue that the requirement will raise costs for insurers and cause them to drop out of the ACA healthcare exchange. Proponents argue that it is immoral to ban people with pre-existing conditions from getting health insurance.
In July 2022 the federal government approved a $21 billion funding package for mental-health and substance-use disorders. The spending package was in response to a jump in substance abuse and a suicide rate that increased 33% from 1999 through 2017, making it the 10th-leading cause of death in the U.S, according to the most recent federal data.
The recreational use of cannabis has been legalized in 19 U.S. states and Washington D.C. Another 12 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands have decriminalized its use. Commercial distribution of cannabis has been legalized in all jurisdictions where possession has been legalized, except for D.C. Personal cultivation for recreational use is allowed in all of these jurisdictions except for Washington State and New Jersey. Proponents argue that marijuana sales bring in tax revenue for states and cut down on non-violent drug incarcerations. Opponents argue that marijuana is a powerful recreational drug that can lead to addiction and psychosis.
Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles deployed by U.S. defense and intelligence agencies to collect data and strike suspected enemy targets. The first known U.S. strike was the 2002 killing of al-Qaeda operative Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi in Yemen. Between 2022 and 2020 the U.S. killed between 9,000 and 18,000 enemy combatants and 900-2200 civilians with drone strikes. Opponents of drone strikes have long contended strikes that kill civilians essentially serve as a recruiting poster for terrorist groups. In 2010, a man named Faisal Shahzad tried and failed to bomb Times Square in New York City. Later, Shahzad cited US drone strikes as his motivation for the failed bombing. Proponents of drone strikes argue that they can kill high value w=enemy targets without putting soldiers into combat.
The U.S. military budge pays the salaries, training, and health care of uniformed and civilian personnel, maintains arms, equipment and facilities, funds operations, and develops and buys new items. The 2023 U.S. military budget is $773 billion, an increase of 4% over 2022’s budget. The budget includes $177.5 billion for the Army, $194 billion for the Air Force and Space Force and $230.8 billion for the Navy and Marine Corps. Other country’s 2021 military budgets were China $293 billion, United Kingdom $68.4 billion and Russia $66 billion.
In 2002, the George W. Bush administration issued the Torture Memos which argued for a narrow definition of torture under U.S. law. They included granting the CIA authority to use “enhanced interrogation techniques” on enemy combatants. The techniques included waterboarding subjection to extreme cold and confinement in small boxes.
The UN. is an organization of governments founded in 1945 after World War II. The organization’s objectives include promoting peace and security, protecting human rights, the environment and providing humanitarian aid in cases of famine, natural disaster, and armed conflict. Recent U.N. interventions include the Sri Lankan civil war in 2009 and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The U.S. joined the U.N. as a founding member in 1945. The U.S. is the largest financial contributor to the UN and contributes more than $11.5 billion or 25% of its total budget annually.
Conscription is the state-mandated enlistment of people in a national military service. In the U.S. the Select Service System drafted men for World War 1, World War 2 and Vietnam. Military service is currently not required in the U.S. Proponents of required service argue that it isn’t fair that a small percentage of Americans serve in the military to protect the rest of the population. Opponents argue that the requirement is unnecessary because modern warfare is fought less and less with ground troops and more with unmanned technology including drones.
After the September 11, 2001 terror attacks the George W. Bush administration authorized the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” at secret detention facilities around the world run by the defense department and CIA. The authorization approved the use of many techniques including beatings, binding in stress positions, hooding, sleep deprivation and waterboarding. In 2008 President Obama signed an executive order banning the use torture by the U.S. military and CIA. In 2016 the use of torture became a topic during the Presidential race when candidate Donald Trump suggested it should be used against the Islamic State. Opponents of torture argue that the U.S. should never practice torture since it is inhumane and illegal under international law. Proponents argue that the military should not be prevented from using torture if they believe it will keep the country safe.
The United States embargo against Cuba prevents American businesses from conducting trade with Cuban interests. In December 2014 President Obama ordered the restoration of full democratic relations with Cuba. The order lifted a 54-year-old trade embargo and eased restrictions on banking and American’s travel to the country. When President Trump took office in 2017 his administration re-imposed the U.S. travel ban, citing Cuba poor record with human rights. In July 2021 President Biden imposed new sanctions on Cuba’s police force and on two of Cuba’s leaders in response to the 2021 Cuban protests. Proponents of relations with Cuba argue that U.S. influence through tourism and trade will promote capitalism and weaken its communist regime. Opponents argue that trade and diplomatic relations will only strengthen the communist regime’s grip on the Cuban government.
Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $150 in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding since the country’s founding in 1948. Nearly all of U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance. In fiscal year 2022 the Biden administration requested $3.8 billion in military aid for Israel.
Foreign aid is a transfer of financial resources or commodities or technical advice and training. The resources can take the form of grants or concessional credits (e.g., export credits). Foreign aid is used to support US national security and commercial interests and can also be distributed for humanitarian reasons. Aid spending is financed by U.S. taxpayers and distributed through 20 government agencies that manage foreign assistance programs. In 2020 the U.S. distributed $39 billion on economic assistance, $25 billion through the U.S. Agency for International Development and $11.6 billion on military assistance.