by Troy Lambert
With 2008’s historic election now in the record books, local students are looking to the future and speaking out about what they want from the new administration.
President-elect Barack Obama will assume the nation’s highest office on Jan. 20, 2009, and faces high expectations after a long-running campaign in which he emphasized “change.”
When it comes to issues much on the minds of Pensacola Junior College students, tackling the current economic crisis and providing affordable health care are extremely important.
During the second presidential debate, the president-elect said health care should be a right for every American. In a nation as wealthy as the United States, there is something fundamentally wrong with people going bankrupt because they can’t pay their medical bills, Obama said.
English major Meghan Kellison agrees.
“I just hope he puts forth proactive legislation to protect the natural-health rights of people,” said Kellison, 19, who did not support Obama but expected him to win the election.
Keturah Potter, 17, is not yet old enough to vote. But the liberal arts major, who is African American, believes politicians must stop generalizing and instead focus on the specific needs of Americans — be they minorities, low-income or middle-class citizens.
That is part of Obama’s campaign pledge.
“I’ll end the outrage of one in five African Americans going without the health care they deserve. We’ll guarantee health care for anyone who needs it, make it affordable for anyone who wants it, and ensure that the quality of your health care does not depend on the color of your skin,” he said in a speech during the 99th NAACP Convention on July 12, 2008.
Obama said he would address this issue by the end of his first term.
The nation’s economic woes are much on the mind of Lorraine Ogan, a 20-year-old liberal arts major. The economy should be the new administration’s top priority, Ogan said, but she is unsure where the money for the massive new economic stimulus package will come from.
Obama favors financial intervention by the government to tackle the problem. He also wants to roll back the tax cuts that the Bush administration put in place for people making more than $250,000 a year.
“We’ve got to restore some balance to our tax code and the Bush tax cuts were disproportionately targeted to the very wealthiest Americans,” Obama said, adding that those making more than $250,000 annually “can afford to pay a little more.”
Ogan also said that she would like to see more help with tuition for students and more guidance for young people to help them make the right decisions about their education.
For his part, the president-elect has proposed a $4,000 tax credit for middle-class college students who agree to a year of public service. He also wants to address the shortcomings of the No Child Left Behind program in which schools are directly held accountable for students’ academic performance, but oftentimes do not receive the money needed to meet that mandate.
“We must provide the funding … and give our states the resources they need; and, finally, meet our commitment to special education,” Obama said.
Ogan also said she would like to see something done about genocide taking place in Darfur.
In an interview with www.SaveDarfur.org, Obama said the United States “has a moral obligation” to step in to halt genocide in nations like Darfur, Rwanda or Bosnia as authorized by the United Nations Security Council.