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Faculty panel discusses current domestic problems

Adrienne Ruffner | Friday, September 24, 2004

With the November elections just around the corner, Notre Dame students are being increasingly challenged to evaluate their political views. On Thursday night, the Faculty Panel on Domestic Issues pushed national problems to the forefront of campus conversation when they discussed domestic issues.

Professors Jorge Bustamante of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, David Betson of economics and public policy and Walter Nicgorski of the Program of Liberal Studies each spoke about domestic issues crucial to the upcoming presidential election.

“Domestic issues are pretty much in the shadow of international policy,” said Nicgorski. “We are, after all, at war.”

While media focus has been concentrated on the situation in Iraq, the panel addressed key national issues such as immigration, health care and Supreme Court appointments.

Two of the most debated domestic issues, abortion and gay marriage, are likely to be resolved by the Supreme Court – a fact that Nicgorski emphasized. He said that four to six justices will likely retire within the next four years, making the future president’s appointments all the more important.

Nicgorski also said that because the Constitution is a “model in our world” and has provided “unparalleled political stability,” the United States must have justices who will adhere to it.

Betson lectured on healthcare, explaining that while politicians often focus on the plight of uninsured children, coverage for the elderly should also play a role in the election. He said that Americans do not receive ample coverage for the amount they pay each year.

“Choice and using our collective power as consumers should be at the forefront in healthcare reform,” he said.

In discussing Mexican immigration to the United States, Bustamante said that the two candidates’ positions “couldn’t be more contrasting.” President Bush favors a guest worker program that would allow migrant workers to come to the country temporarily in exchange for work, while John Kerry supports an earned progress system that legalizes immigrants after they have come to the country, he said.

“Immigration is not a crime-related problem but a labor issue,” Bustamante said.

The lecture concluded with a question-and-answer session during which students asked about the issues in more detail.

Junior Kamaria Porter said she believed the lecture was informative and useful.

“I really appreciated the perspectives on economic issues, especially healthcare,” Porter said. “There are so many people in our country without it, and this needs to be fixed.

The lecture was part of a series of events in the campus Rock the Vote Campaign. Rock the Vote campus coordinator Peter Quaranto said students should expect similar events this fall.

“We will continue to promote political dialogue and education,” he said.