Answer the following questions to see how your political beliefs match your political parties and candidates.
The United States Electoral College is the mechanism established by the United States Constitution for the indirect election of the President of the United States and Vice President of the United States. Citizens of the United States vote in each state at a general election to choose a slate of “electors” pledged to vote for a party’s candidate. The Twelfth Amendment requires each elector to cast one vote for president and another vote for vice president. During the 2019 Democratic Presidential Primary 15 candidates, including Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Elisabeth Warren, called for the abolition of the electoral college.
In 2002 the federal government passed the Help America Vote Act. The law required first-time voters in Federal Elections to present a form of identification to the appropriate State or local election official before or on election day if they registered by mail. Forms of acceptable identification include a current and valid photo identification, a copy of a current utility bill, bank statements, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter. Voters who submitted any of these forms of identification during registration are exempt, as are voters entitled to vote by absentee ballot under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. If a voter submits a ballot by mail a copy of the ID must be submitted with the ballot. Seven US stated currently have strict voter ID laws in which a voter cannot cast a valid ballot without first presenting ID.
A foreigner is defined a person who is not a citizen of the United States. Federal law has prohibited noncitizens from voting in federal election since the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act was passed in 1996. Punishment includes fines, imprisonment, inadmissibility, and deportation. Exempt from punishment is any noncitizen who, at the time of voting, had two natural or adoptive U.S. citizen parents, who began permanently living in the United States before turning 16 years old, and who reasonably believed that they were a citizen of the United States. Federal law does not prohibit noncitizens from voting in state or local elections, but no state has allowed noncitizens to vote in state elections since Arkansas became the last state to outlaw noncitizen voting in 1926. As of December 2021, fourteen US Cities allow non-citizen voting including New York City, Montpelier in Vermont, San Francisco (school board only), and Washington, D.C.
In 1971 the U.S. Congress ratified the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which prohibited states from allowing anyone under the age of 18 to vote. Before the amendment was passed the minimum voting age was 21 years of age. Support to lower the age of 18 was driven in part by the draft of the Vietnam War which conscripted young men between the ages of 18 and 21 to join the armed forces. In 2021 U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) reintroduced legislation in the House of Representatives to lower the voting age in America to 16 years old. In order to pass the legislation would have to be ratified as a Constitutional Amendment.
In the U.S. a citizen may give $2,700 per election to a federal candidate, $5,000 per year to a PAC, $10,000 per year to a State or local party committee and $33,400 per year to a national party. Citizens and corporations may give unlimited amounts to a Super PAC. A Super PAC is freed from traditional campaign finance laws as long as it does not fund a candidate or campaign or coordinate directly with a campaign how to spend donations.
A tax return is a document which states how much income an individual or entity reported to the government. In the U.S. there is no legal requirement of any kind that presidential candidates release tax returns from any year. Tax returns can be released by an individual taxpayer, but cannot released by the IRS to the public. However, one Senator has proposed legislation requiring presidential candidates to release tax returns. In 2016 a U.S. Senator proposed the Presidential Tax Transparency Act. The bill would require a presidential candidate to release the most recent three years of tax returns to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) within 15 days of becoming the nominee at the party convention. If the candidate refuses to comply, the Treasury Secretary would provide the tax returns directly to the FEC for public release.
The U.S. Constitution does not prevent convicted felons from holding the office of the President or a seat in the Senate or House of Representatives. Individuals who have been convicted of sedition, seditious conspiracy, treason, conspiracy to defraud the United States or selling information on national defense may not run for federal office. Cities and States may prevent convicted felons from holding statewide and local offices.
In the 2010 Supreme Court case Citizens United vs FEC, court ruled that the free speech clause of the First Amendment prohibited the government from restricting independent expenditures for political campaigns by corporations, including nonprofit corporations, labor unions, and other associations. The court’s landmark decision overturned the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, also known as “McCain-Feingold.” That law had prohibited unregulated contributions to national political parties and limited the use of corporate and union money to fund advertisements discussing political issues within 60 days of a general election.
In the 2020 U.S. federal election foreign lobbyists donated more than $33.5 million to candidates, political parties, and interest groups. In the United States foreign nationals are prohibited by law from making contributions to political groups or campaigns to influence U.S. elections. Foreign nationals can hire foreign agents or lobbyists to advocate for their interests and make political contributions on their behalf. The Foreign Agents Registration Act is a United States law that imposes public disclosure requirements and other legal obligations on persons representing foreign interests. Under FARA, “foreign agents” — defined as individuals and entities engaged in domestic political or advocacy work on behalf of foreign governments, organizations, or persons (“foreign principals”)—must register with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and disclose their relationship, activities, and related financial compensation. Foreign agents registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act during the 2020 election cycle made at least $8.5 million in political contributions. Another $25 million in 2020 political contributions came from lobbyists representing foreign clients, including U.S. subsidiaries owned or controlled by foreign parent companies, registered under the Lobbying Disclosure Act.
Lobbying describes paid activity in which special interest groups hire well-connected professional advocates, often lawyers, to argue for specific legislation in decision-making bodies such as the United States Congress. Analysts estimate that there are over 100,000 working lobbyists in Washington D.C. who bring in a combined revenue of over $9 billion annually. In 2007 the U.S. Congress passed the “Honest Leadership and Open Government Act” which placed lobbying “cooling off” periods for members of Congress and their staff. Senators and their staff were now prohibited from registering as lobbyists for 1-2 years after they left office.
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.
Global warming, or climate change, is an increase in the earth’s atmospheric temperature since the late nineteenth century. In politics the debate over global warming is centered on whether this increase in temperature is due to greenhouse gas emissions or is the result of a natural pattern in the earth’s temperature. In 2022 Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act which included hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies for investing in renewable-energy projects and producing energy from renewable sources. The bill also included credits to help factories retool to turn out electric vehicles and awards tax credits to help homeowners upgrade their homes with more energy-efficient products. It gives a $7,500 tax credit for purchasing electric vehicles, although with conditions that could make it hard to qualify. Proponents of the bill argue that it encourages business and individuals to adopt renewal energy and move away from fossil fuels. Opponents argue that the bill lacked funding for natural gas and nuclear energy which are more reliable and cheaper to produce.
In June 2017, President Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate accord in an effort to boost the nation’s industry and energy independence. Mr. Trump argued that the climate accord was unfair to the U.S. since the agreement imposed easier restrictions on China and India who lead the world in carbon emissions. Opponents of the climate agreement argue that it unfairly penalizes U.S. energy companies and consumers by imposing restrictions on domestic energy production. Proponents of the climate accord argue that exiting it sets back decades of diplomatic efforts by the U.S. government to reduce worldwide carbon emissions.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a 19-million-acre national wildlife refuge in northern Alaska. The refuge includes a large variety of species of plants and animals, such as polar bears, grizzly bears, black bears, moose, caribou, wolves, eagles, lynx, wolverine, marten, beaver and migratory birds, which rely on the refuge. In August 2020 the Trump administration approved program to auction oil leases that would enable oil companies to drill for oil within the refuge. Environmentalists argue that oil development threatens wildlife and is likely to worsen climate change. Proponents argue that drilling would be limited to the coastal ranges and would make the U.S. more energy independent.
Wind energy was the source of about 9.2% of total U.S. electricity generation and about 46% of electricity generation from renewable energy in 2021. Wind turbines convert wind energy into electricity. President Biden’s 2021 $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan included a 10 year extension of wind and solar tax credits. Qualifying wind farms will receive tax benefits based on their output for a 10-year period. The credits, which can be shared with investment partners, reduce federal tax bills. Opponents to wind farms, including many environmental biologists argue that they are one of the biggest threats to birds of prey and migratory bird species (killing an estimated 6000 birds every year) and that construction of the wind farm projects require large scale land clearing. Proponents argue that wind power is a clean, efficient alternative to fossil fuels.
In 2016, France became the first country to ban the sale of plastic disposable products that contain less than 50% of biodegradable material and in 2017, India passed a law banning all plastic disposable plastic products. In the U.S. the states of California, Connecticut, Colorado Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Vermont have banned disposable bags.
In July 2022 the Biden administration issued a draft plan to expand oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. The proposal from the Department of the Interior recommends holding up to 10 lease sales in the Gulf over the next five years, as well as one sale in the Cook Inlet off the coast of south-central Alaska. Under the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the federal government must plan for offshore oil and gas leasing on a five-year basis. The previous plan was finalized under President Barack Obama in 2016, went into effect in 2017, and expired in 2022. Opponents include environmentalists, who argue that it will be impossible to limit oil and gas consumption without simultaneously phasing out the production of fossil fuels. Proponents argue that expanding oil drilling makes the US more energy independent and lowers the cost of gasoline for consumers.
Fracking is the process of extracting oil or natural gas from shale rock. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which fractures the rock and allows the oil or gas to flow out to a well. While fracking has significantly boosted oil production, there are environmental concerns that the process is contaminating groundwater. The Permian Basin accounts for 43% of U.S. oil production and is currently the most productive oil shale reserve in the country. In June 2022 The Environmental Protection Agency announced that it may deem parts of the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico in “non-attainment” with its ozone standards. Since the EPA does not have the authority to ban fracking many observers see the agency’s designation as a threat to shut down the U.S.’s largest fracking operation. Opponents of fracking argue that it uses toxic chemicals and negatively effects human health. Proponents argue that fracking is important for energy independence and blocking energy development locally simply outsources it somewhere else, often with much greater social and environmental consequences.
The Dakota Access pipeline is a 1,172 mile oil pipeline that stretches through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and southern Illinois. The pipeline would allow oil companies to transport crude oil from North Dakota to oil refineries along the Eastern Seaboard. The pipeline’s construction was permitted by the participating state governments under eminent domain. Opponents of the pipeline (including several Native American tribes, including the Meskwaki and Sioux tribal nations) argue that the pipeline has the potential to pollute their water supply and destroy Native American burial sites. Proponents argue that the pipeline is necessary for the U.S. to achieve energy independence.
Animal testing is the use of non-human animals in experiments that seek to control the variables that affect the behavior or biological system under study. Examples of applied research include testing disease treatments, breeding, defense research, and toxicology, including cosmetics testing. In education, animal testing is sometimes a component of biology or psychology courses. There is no nationwide ban on animal testing in the United States. The humane society estimates that more than 50 million dogs, cats, monkeys, rabbits, rats and other animals undergo testing each year in the US.
In November 2018 the online e-commerce company Amazon announced it would be building a second headquarters in New York City and Arlington, VA. The announcement came a year after the company announced it would accept proposals from any North American city who wanted to host the headquarters. Amazon said the company could invest over $5 billion and the offices would create up to 50,000 high paying jobs. More than 200 cities applied and offered Amazon millions of dollars in economic incentives and tax breaks. For the New York City headquarters the city and state governments gave Amazon $2.8 billion in tax credits and construction grants. For the Arlington, VA headquarters the city and state governments gave Amazon $500 million in tax breaks. Opponents argue that governments should spend the tax revenue on public projects instead and that the federal government should pass laws banning tax incentives. The European Union has strict laws which prevent member cities from bidding against each other with state aid (tax incentives) in an effort to lure private companies. Proponents argue that the jobs and tax revenue created by the companies eventually offset the cost of any awarded incentives.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“Defund the police” is a slogan that supports divesting funds from police departments and reallocating them to non-policing forms of public safety and community support, such as social services, youth services, housing, education, healthcare and other community resources.
In the U.S. police budgets are set by elected officials at local and state levels. In 2020 elected officials in New York, Seattle, Los Angeles and Minneapolis approved plans to reduce police budgets in response to the nationwide protests following the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. After the budget cuts many US cities saw a rise in crime, with murder rates up by double digits in many cities. In the last three months of 2020, homicides rose 32.2% in cities with a population of at least one million, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Quarterly Uniform Crime Report. Law-enforcement officials and criminologists say pandemic stress and a police pullback amid protests are likely contributors. Proponents of the spending cuts argue that between 1977 and 2017, local spending on policing rose 176%, versus a 137% rise in general expenses, accounting for inflation. Opponents of the cuts will lower morals amongst police officers and contribute to a spike in crime.
In April 2016, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe issued an executive order which restored voting rights to more than 200,000 convicted felons living in the state. The order overturned the state’s practice of felony disenfranchisement, which excludes people from voting who have been convicted of a criminal defense. The 14th amendment of the United States prohibits citizens from voting who have participated in a “rebellion, or other crime” but allows states to determine which crimes qualify for voter disenfranchisement. In the U.S. approximately 5.8 million people are ineligible to vote due to voter disenfranchisement and only two states, Maine and Vermont, have no restrictions on allowing felons to vote. Opponents of felon voting rights argue that a citizen forfeits their rights to vote when they are convicted of a felony. Proponents argue that the arcane law disenfranchises millions of Americans from participating in democracy and has an adverse affect on poor communities.
Qualified immunity is a defense that police officers cannot be sued for misconduct if they were unaware at the time that their conduct was illegal and if there is no previous legal case with similar facts that ruled that officers may not engage in that conduct. Proponents argue that more intense criticism of police will disincentivize officers from doing their jobs resulting in crime rates going up. Opponents argue that police officers should be held more accountable for misconduct.
Prison overcrowding is a social phenomenon occurring when the demand for space in prisons in a jurisdiction exceeds the capacity for prisoners. The First Step Act of 2018 passed overwhelmingly in both houses of Congress and was signed by President Trump. Within the first year of enactment, more than 3,000 federal prisoners were released based on changes to the good-time credits calculation formula under the First Step Act, and more than 2,000 inmates benefited from sentence reductions.
In January 2016, President Obama issued a series of executive actions banning federal prisons from using solitary confinement to punish juveniles and prisoners who commit low level infractions. His orders also lowered the number of days an adult inmate could be subject to solitary confinement from 365 days to 60 days. A recent study found that prisoners who were subject to solitary confinement were 20-25% more likely to be repeat criminal offenders than prisoners who avoided it.
In March 2018, President Trump asked the Justice department to seek more death-penalty cases against drug traffickers. Trump announced the proposal as part of a plan to combat the opioid epidemic which is claiming the lives of more than 100 people a day in the U.S. In 1988 the federal government passed a drug law which imposed the death penalty on drug “kingpins” who commit murder in the course of their business. Analysts estimate that this law has resulted in only a few executions. 32 countries impose the death penalty for drug smuggling. Seven of these countries (China, Indonesia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore) routinely execute drug offenders. Asia and the Middle East’s tough approach contrasts with many Western countries who have legalized cannabis in recent years (selling cannabis in Saudi Arabia is punished by beheading).
Currently, police unions are allowed to collectively bargain with government officials over the methods used to hold police officers accountable for misconduct. Proponents argue that collective bargaining stands in the way of accountability. Opponents of limiting collective bargaining argue that more intense criticism of police will disincentivize officers from doing their jobs resulting in crime rates going up.
Mandatory minimum sentences are automatic, minimum prison terms set by Congress. Judges in the U.S. are required to base their sentences on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, mandatory minimum sentencing laws, or both. In 1986 the U.S. Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act which enacted new mandatory minimum sentences for drugs. People caught with 5 grams of crack cocaine were given jail sentences of 5 years without parole (the same sentence as people caught with 500 grams). The legislation was in response to the moral panic involving the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980’s. In 2010 Congress and President Obama eliminated the crack cocaine mandatory sentence with the passage of the Fair Sentencing Act. Opponents of mandatory minimum sentences argue that they often impose long prison terms on non-violent criminals. Proponents argue that the sentences are designed to help judges punish drug cartels and those responsible for the country’s drug epidemic.
In 2021 the U.S. Justice Department announced that federal agents would be required to wear body cameras when executing arrest warrants or searching buildings. A 2022 Bureau of Justice Statistics report found that 80% of local police departments in the US used body cameras. The study found that departments that used body cameras showed improvement in officer safety, increased evidence quality and reduced civilian complaints.
Private prisons are incarceration centers that are run by a for-profit company instead of a government agency. The companies that operate private prisons are paid a per-diem or monthly rate for each prisoner they keep in their facilities. In 2016 8.5% of the prisoner population was housed in private prisons. This is an 8% decline since 2000. Opponents of private prisons argue that incarceration is a social responsibility and that entrusting it to for-profit companies is inhumane. Proponents argue that prisons run by private companies are consistently more cost effective than those run by government agencies. In 2017 President Trump reversed an Obama administration directive to gradually reduce the number of contracts with for-profit prison operators, saying it would interfere with meeting the demands of the prison population. In January 2021 President Joe Biden signed an executive order which banned the Justice Department’s use of private prisons. In 2020 the Justice Department paid more than $945 million to private prison companies.
In March 2019 the U.S. Senate defeated The Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act by a vote of 58-38. The act, proposed by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) would lower the interest rate on existing student loans from 7% to 3.86%. The act would be financed by levying a mandatory income tax of 30% on everyone who earns between $1 Million and $2 Million dollars per year. Proponents argue that current student loan interest rates are nearly double normal interest rates and should be lowered to provide relief for millions of low-income borrowers. Opponents argue that the borrowers agreed to pay the interest rates when they took out the loans and taxing the rich would hurt the economy.
A 2017 College Board study estimated that the cost of college has increased 100% since 2001. The St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank estimates that U.S. college tuition debt has increased from $480 billion in 2006 to $1.5 trillion in 2018. Several 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary candidates have argued that the cost of college is out of control and that the government should pay for tuition. Opponents argue that the government cant afford it and point to estimates from the Committee for a Responsible Federal budget that estimate programs would cost the government $80 billion a year.
Critical race theory is the claim that American institutions, laws, and history are inherently racist. It argues that white people have put up social, economic, and legal barriers between the races in order to maintain their elite status, both economically and politically and that the source of poverty and criminal behavior in minority communities is due exclusively to these barriers.
Universal preschool is a proposal that would use funding from the federal government to provide school to children before they reach Kindergarten. In the current U.S. public education system government funded school is guaranteed to all children from kindergarten to 12th grade. number of U.S. states use state tax revenue to fund part-time and full-time preschool for children between the ages of 3 and 5. Half of the states that offer pre-K programs limit enrollment to low-income children. Proponents that preschool is too expensive for most American families and according to The Chicago Child-Parent Center's Longitudinal Study children who attend preschool found on average that children make significant gains in cognitive, language and early math and reading skills. Opponents point to a 2005 study done by the RAND Corp. which showed “no significant impacts in education – in the short or long term.”
In August 2022 President Joe Biden announced that his administration will forgive up to $20,000 of student loan debt. The plan will cancel $10,000 in federal student loan debt for borrowers making under $125,000 a year or couples making less than $250,000 a year. Borrowers who receive federal Pell Grants and make less than $125,000 a year would be eligible for total forgiveness of $20,000. The Wharton School of Business estimated that the plan will cost $300 billion over 10 years.
In January 2022 Arizona Governor Doug Ducey introduced the The Open for Learning Recovery Benefit program. Under the program families of public school children would be offered up to $7,000 for private school tuition and other expenses that might be incurred because of a campus closure. “We know parents are best equipped to make decisions around their child’s education — they’re the ones in the driver’s seat,” Governor Ducey said in a press release. Ducey allocated $10 million of federal COVID relief funds to fund the program. Proponents argue that public schools are a necessity and closing them hits families with a variety of unexpected financial expenses. Opponents argue that underfunded public schools should get the funding instead.
Charter schools are tax payer funded K-12 schools that are managed by private companies. In the U.S. there are approximately 2.9 million students enrolled in 6,700 charter schools. Charter schools are approved and governed by city, county or state governments. Beneficiaries of private schools include real-estate investors who typically own the buildings and land where the schools are housed. Opponents of charter schools argue that they take money away from the public education system and enrich private companies and real estate investors who own the land where the schools are built. Proponents argue that students in charter schools consistently have higher test scores than public school students and note that there are millions of students across the U.S. who are currently on waitlists for private schools.
The Common Core State Standards is an educational initiative from 2010 that details what K–12 students throughout the United States should know in English language arts and mathematics at the conclusion of each school grade. The initiative is sponsored by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers. 36 US states and the District of Columbia currently use a form of the standards.
Truancy is intentional, unjustified, unauthorized, or illegal absence from compulsory education. Its absence is caused by students of their own free will and does not apply to excused absences. In the U.S. truancy laws are regulated by local school districts and vary widely across the United States. Penalties include fines or jail time for parents or children. In 2019 Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Beto O’Rourke introduced plans that would require the government to decriminalize truancy at the federal level.
A school voucher is a certificate of government funding that students can use to pay for the school of their choice. Students are given the vouchers and can use them to pay for non-public school systems including private schools, home schools and charter schools Proponents argue that the vouchers will create a better education system by promoting competition between schools. Opponents argue that the voucher system removes funds from public schools and redirects it toward private institutions.
The 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings caused several states and cities to pass strict gun control measures. In response, state lawmakers in gun friendly states in the South and West passed bills that would strengthen Stand Your Ground laws and allow weapons in most public places. In 2014, 21 states passed laws that expanded the rights of gun owners allowing them to possess firearms in churches, bars, schools and college campuses. The federal government has not passed any gun control measures since the 1994 Brady Bill and 42 states now allow the possession of assault rifles. In the U.S. two-thirds of all gun deaths are suicides and in 2010 there were 19,000 firearm suicides and 11,000 firearm homicides.
28 states US states currently allow teachers or school staff to be armed in the classroom under varying conditions. Proponents argue that without guns, teachers or other staff have only limited countermeasures available to them when confronted with a shooter. Opponents, include The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, highlight the elevated risk of accidents and negligent use of firearms as more adults in schools are armed.
In 2005, Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). The law protects gun manufacturers and dealers from being held liable when crimes have been committed with their products. The law was passed in response to a series of lawsuits filed against the gun industry in the late 1990s which claimed gun-makers and sellers were not doing enough to prevent crimes committed with their products. Proponents of the law argue that lawsuits will discourage gun manufacturers from supplying stores who sell guns that end up being used in violent crimes. Opponents argue that gun manufacturers are not responsible for random acts of violence committed with their products.
In 1970, Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act which banned the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of certain drugs. The act ranked drugs by their potential for abuse and placed them into five categories. Two of the most widely used drugs in the U.S., wine and alcohol, are exempt from the classifications. Ballot measures in several states including Colorado, Washington and Oregon have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. These laws apply only within the respective states and have no effect on Federal law.