Rock the (Midterm) Vote: Understanding The Issues

In about a month, the U.S. midterm elections will take place nationwide. With 37 Senate, 435 House, and 37 Governor spots up for grabs, the American citizens (yep… you!) will be in charge of determining who will fill those seats.

“But, I’m in college!” you exclaim. “How am I supposed to vote when I’m not even at home?”

Luckily, the whole process is pretty simple. Yes, you will be required to fill out a form, tongue that strip of sticky nastiness on an envelope, and pop that bad boy in the mail. But, that’s about it. Here you can find all the information you need to obtain and send in an absentee ballot.

There are many reasons why the midterms as a whole are important. Also, many races are important. But, it’s not an election without the issues. What do Americans want? What do the varying states want?

This year, the three principal issues of the election will be the economy, the deficit, and healthcare. They’re all extraordinarily complex subjects, so it’s important to objectively understand what’s going on with each topic before heading to the booth.

The Economy
Since the country-shaking events that occurred on Wall Street in 2008, the U.S. economy, as well many unemployed Americans, have been battling to regain financial strength and stability. The Bush Administration spent $700 billion in December 2008 to bail-out the struggling companies that were “too big to fail.” As the unemployment rate skyrocketed and Obama took office in ’09, a $787 billion economic stimulus bill was passed. There are still many discrepancies concerning the bill itself, as well as its effectiveness. However, 15 million Americans remain unemployed. And it’s up to us to pick representatives that can intelligently address this issue without adding too greatly to the already massive deficit.

Which brings me to issue #2…

The Deficit
This fiscal year, the deficit is expected to top out at $1.56 TRILLION (yikes!). According to CNN, the 2009 deficit, which was $1.41 trillion, is about “nine times bigger than each of the 2002 and 2007 deficits.” Those numbers are absolutely jaw-dropping and have caused a ton of anger and outrage amongst American citizens. The Tea Party Movement is a perfect example of such an emotional (and effective) reaction. It’s important to remember that we’re not talking about the budget, but the DEFICIT. That means that every single penny in the aforementioned number will be borrowed from some other country. When we depend on other nations so greatly, it can make our own economic recovery very difficult.

This past year, Congress passed a health care reform bill and Obama signed it into law. However, the bill was only supported by Democrats, leaving the true fate of the $940 billion, 2,700 page bill up in the air. If Republicans take control of the House and Senate after the election, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to “repeal and replace” the bill. The massive bill is complicated (so take a minute and click through the slides on the left) and Americans are split concerning the law. So, healthcare will remain an important factor in the midterm elections, for the already passed law can go one way or the other depending on who controls Congress.

No matter your party, these issues will definitely be a consideration when you head to the polls on November 2. They’re all related to one another, considering economy and healthcare reform packages will add to the deficit. However, with the right people in office (I’m optimistic, what can I say?) and a bit of patience from Americans, these issues can be hurdled with success. The economy, the deficit, and healthcare are extremely important and decisions made about them now will shape our adult lives– which are just beginning.

Remember to look up your state’s candidates and their stances on different issues rather than merely voting based on party. And, most importantly, remember to fill out that voter registration form or absentee ballot and have your voice heard!

Now tell us: where do you stand on these three key issues?

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