Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Podcast: Republicans, Democrats debate Nov. 8 elections

Chairs of College Democrats and College Republicans debate issues such as weed legalization, abortion access, school choice
Charlotte Bellamy


Jeffrey Deiss (0:04)
Welcome to the Badger Herald Podcast’s first moderated political debate. I’m Jeffrey Deiss, the Podcast Director, and I’ll be your host tonight. Now we’ll let the two debaters introduce themselves.

Joe Krantz (0:16)
Good evening. My name is Joe. I’m the Chair of the College Republicans.


Kevin Jacobson (0:19)
Hi, my name is Kevin, and I’m the Chair of the College Democrats.

Deiss (0:23)
For the format of this debate, I’m going to ask your question, and both debaters will have one minute and 30 seconds to prep. Then the debaters will go back and forth, twice each for one minute, 30 seconds. You can use as little time as you want for each time section, but no more than one minute and 30 seconds. And then for each question, the debaters will alternate.

Deiss (0:45)
So let’s get started with the first question. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tim Michaels is opposed to legalizing marijuana in the State of Wisconsin, calling it a slippery slope. Should marijuana, either medical or recreational, be legalized in the State of Wisconsin? Why or why not?

Krantz (1:02)
Yeah, so I actually think a lot of conservatives across the board would prefer to legalize both medical and recreational, but especially, I think, the majority of conservatives would prefer to legalize medical, especially because it brings a lot of benefits to cancer patients or, you know, pain relief for a lot of people. And not to mention that in 38 states, medical marijuana is already legalized. So we’re sort of behind the ball on this. And there’s really no harm done in medical and, you know, to Michael’s mentioned, it’s a slippery slope, but especially medical, I really don’t understand how that can be a slippery slope. You know, a lot of people say medical is the main pathway to recreational. But there’s definitely no harm in medical, in my opinion. And recreational — I definitely take a more libertarian point of view on recreational. I think it’s, you know, a non-lethal substance. People can either use it responsibly or irresponsibly, just like alcohol. So, really, it depends on the person. And, you know, in my libertarian point of view, from that side, I would say that could be legalized as well. And I think this is a topic where Republicans and Democrats can find some common ground, which can be very rare today.

Jacobson (2:09)
I would agree, I think that both medical and recreational marijuana should be legalized in the State of Wisconsin, and we’ve seen a growing trend across many states, where they’re legalizing it both recreationally and medicinally. I really don’t understand why it hasn’t been done, honestly. It just kind of baffles me. I mean, we saw Minnesota do it on accident. So I think that things like that, it’s just, it’s going to happen eventually, we might as well not be left behind. We don’t want to be lost in this industry. We don’t want to have our continued taxpayer dollars go out of state to buy illegal marijuana that is then transported across the border. So I think we should just get it over with and legalize. Also, the additional tax revenue from it would allow us to offset other benefits as well so that we could possibly use that to offset other costs. But yeah, study after study shows that it’s safer than cigarettes, that it’s also less addictive than anyone ever thought. And yeah, I think that the best way to do it is to legalize it and regulate it.

Deiss (3:10)
Okay, awesome. So maybe for this one I’ll ask a question that you guys will disagree on a little more.

Krantz (3:17)
I think that’s probably the rest of it — it probably won’t be a problem.

Deiss (3:22)
Yeah. So for this question, we’re going to talk about President Biden. So high inflation has hurt working families across the country. Many economists fear that a recession is looming. However, Americans don’t all agree on to the extent to which this administration has helped to hurt the situation. President Biden has signed bills like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and expanded student loan forgiveness. Do you think President Biden’s economic policies have helped or hurt American workers? Why or why not? And I think I’m gonna let Kevin start for this one.

Jacobson (3:55)
I think there’s no doubt that people in America have been hurt by rising costs. I think that it’s a growing issue. And it’s been affecting everybody from college students to the elderly, who are only on Social Security these days and I think that it’s a real issue that’s affecting a lot of people, and I think the Democrats have done a lot to try to address those issues. I will say, though, that we have one of the lowest unemployments ever in the state of Wisconsin. We have the most people working that we’ve ever had in history. We’ve also seen wages increase, we’ve seen an increase in unionization, we’ve seen a lot of benefits to workers over the same period of time. So I think that although there are these rising costs, there are mitigating factors to those rising costs. I think that through a lot of the actions on the federal level, we have seen movement towards finding solutions for people. The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act allows for future movement towards green energy, but also reduces the deficit allowing for inflation to become more under control. So I think that using both a combination of that on the federal level and local tax relief, which Governor Evers has proposed through the tax holiday on gas and other products, I think that those things will help to mitigate this global inflation that we’re facing.

Deiss (5:17)
Alright Joe, here’s your chance to respond.

Jacobson (5:20)
Yeah, so I like that, Kevin recognized that, you know, Americans and Wisconsinites, across the board are definitely facing these higher costs. And, you know, you can blame a lot of that on the pandemic, which is true. But as far as Democratic policies that are aimed at helping the economy and getting inflation under control, the only sort of attempt they’ve done at that is by increasing spending through the Inflation Reduction Act, and additional COVID monies. So, you know, the only real way to stop inflation is to stop spending. And, you know, you mentioned green energy, but moving towards green energy doesn’t really help inflation at all, it actually does the exact opposite. Essentially, the Biden administration has killed American energy through cutting off the Keystone pipeline, ending fracking, ending our oil leases. You know, that’s why we’re seeing the price of the pump that we do. You know, in the early stages of the Russia-Ukraine war, you know, you can blame Putin all you want for the gas crisis, but at the end of the day, it’s about American energy independence. And so working class Americans are really just suffering from these Democratic policies of spending. In times of inflation, you just have to stop spending and get that inflation under control. Inflation is supposed to be around 2%. For the past eight, nine months, we’ve been around 8%. And it’s not really decreasing.

Deiss (6:43)
Right, Kevin, here’s a chance to respond to that.

Jacobson (6:45)
Yeah, I would say that, first off, the inflation reduction actually decreases funding, and it decreases the deficit. So it allows for less money to be taken out. So I think that that will end up reducing the amount of inflation that is occurring. I don’t think that stopping inflation is directly related to stopping spending. I think it’s about balancing the budget and decreasing the deficit. And I will say this, Donald Trump had the largest deficit ever in our American history. So I think that that’s something that we need to consider. And I would also say for the price of the pump, the war is not over in Ukraine. Why would we see the prices alleviate? And now we’re hearing OPEC, also cutting their production as well. These are things that are out of our control. And we’ve taken steps to mitigate those factors, such as trying to suspend the gas tax for a temporary time using our record surplus here in the State of Wisconsin. So I guess, what else could we be doing? I would like to know what the Republicans’ plan is for addressing rising costs rather than just cutting funding, because that’s already been tried.

Deiss (7:50)
Joe, your last minute to respond.

Krantz (7:51)
Yeah, so I think if we especially focus on gas here in American energy, obviously, the war in Ukraine has some effect on the price of gas. But you already saw the gas prices skyrocketing well before the Ukraine war. And, you know, you talk about, “how can we alleviate these problems? We’ve already tried everything.” Well, we need to, you know, unleash American energy. You know, Republicans aren’t buying into this, “we need to go green and get rid of fossil fuel emissions,” when people are suffering at the pump and suffering to pay their grocery bill because maybe they’re a commuter and they drive an hour to work and can barely afford their weekly or monthly gas bill. So we need to unleash American energy, you know, start fracking more in the zones that we have control over. And, you know, instead of relying on canceling our own energy independence, we need to focus on bringing down the price at the pump in that way.

Deiss (8:44)
All right, that’s gonna wrap it up for our second question. Next, we’re going to turn to issues of crime and law enforcement. With recent events like the George Floyd protests and the Waukesha Parade Attack fresh in Wisconsin voters’ minds, debates over crime and law enforcement are guaranteed to play a role in this election. Many politicians and activists have called to defund the police in light of recent events. Do you think the Wisconsin State Government should reallocate money from police budgets? Why or why not? All right, and we’re gonna let Joe start it off. You have a minute and 30 seconds.

Krantz (9:20)
Yeah, so I guess first, I will address the idea of defund the police and you know, if you’re going to complain about there being cops that aren’t doing their job properly, or discriminating on the job — examples like George Floyd — how can we help police departments and individuals, regular American citizens deal with this scenario? Well, the only way to have better police and better police activity is through more funding and more training for them. You know, if you have less funding, it’s a lot harder to create successful police departments and cops that are motivated to do their job. When you decrease their salary and decrease department funding that’s only going to decrease motivation and qualified police officers. So the only way to sort of solve that problem is by actually providing more training and more funding to police departments.

Deiss (10:09)
All right, Kevin, now, here’s your chance to respond.

Jacobson (10:13)
Yeah, crime is obviously a massive issue here in the State of Wisconsin. And we’ve seen it on all the political commercials, we know that it’s something that is a concern of people. I want to first address the Defund the Police movement. Governor Evers has never supported the Defund the Police movement. He has worked to fund police using ARPA dollars and has allocated millions of dollars to emergency medical services, fire departments, police departments throughout the State of Wisconsin. I would also say that, in reality, a lot of the defunding of police departments these days is happening because municipalities are being forced to make hard decisions, because they’re getting less and less tax revenue from the state. And that is something that we’ve tried to address as Democrats for years, because we think that municipalities and cities should be able make budgets and decisions for themselves. And we think that they should be able to fund their police departments themselves. And Governor Evers put forward in his last budget an increase in shared revenue, which allows cities to make their own budgets. So Mayor Cavalier Johnson released the Milwaukee budget recently, and he had 1% decrease on police. But that’s because they have a massive pension payment coming up for police, former police officers, but they have to pay that. And they aren’t able to raise additional revenue, because the state won’t allow them to. Governor Evers has put forward measures to increase shared revenue. And they’ve been taken out by the Republican legislature. Why is that? And why have we not allowed them to increase their own budgets so they can pay for more police?

Deiss (10:42)
Alright, Joe?

Krantz (11:44)
Yeah, and I think under Tim Michels’s leadership, that is something that’s gonna happen across the board is police funding across the board. And while I do think it’s important that, you know, cities and municipalities have control over their own budget, and I think they do have pretty good control over their own budgets. You know, a lot of these initiatives have to come from the leaders of the state, and not necessarily just give sole control to the cities and municipalities, because crime is a statewide problem, not just in individual cities and municipalities. Homicide in Wisconsin is up 38% in the past year, as well as violent crime in general is up 9%. And really I think this comes down to a cultural problem. It’s not necessarily, you know, economic factors or anything, as some Democrats have blamed crime on, which that could be part of it. But it’s more of a cultural problem, in my opinion. If there’s no desire to discipline criminals, and you want lenient sentences and ending cash bail, and sort of, you don’t have this father type figure to step in, and, you know, punish criminals when punishment is due, you’re gonna have crime running rampant like we’re seeing, so we need to punish criminals instead of emboldening them and take steps to really increase criminal punishments in the State of Wisconsin. All right, Kevin.

Jacobson (13:02)
Yeah, I think it’s interesting, because I think a lot of our state leaders have called for additional resources for police, for prosecutors, for justice departments across the state. Attorney General Josh Kaul called for year after year increases to State Department of Justice budgets, and they have been cut out by the legislature through the budget process. And that has led to an increase in crime. And I think that it’s directly related to the fact that Democrats took over the executive offices, and then Republicans refused to do their jobs in the legislature and allocate the money to these initiatives. Dozens of anti-violence programs have been cut because of the Republican legislature. We saw opioid money held up for over a month because the legislature would not approve the funding. So I think that things like that are just delays that we constantly see. I also want to mention gun violence, because I think that Governor Evers has proposed multiple times many robust laws to address gun violence, from Red Flag laws to universal background checks. These things are broadly popular in the State of Wisconsin, don’t affect the vast majority of people and would allow us to ensure that dangerous people do not have access to weapons and be able to commit crimes.

Deiss (14:20)
All right. For our next question, we want to get to a topic that has been on the mind of a lot of voters recently, and that is abortion legality and access. Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson has held a variety of positions on abortion throughout his career. He co-sponsored Senator Lindsey Graham’s bill to federally criminalize abortion after 20 weeks of gestation. Recently, he has said that he supports exceptions for cases like rape and incest, and that he would like to see a statewide referendum on the issue of abortion legality. If you had the power to decide abortion policy at a state or even federal level for that matter. What would your ideal policy be and why? Alright, Kevin, we’re gonna let you start this one off.

Jacobson (15:05)
I think that a lot of people were really disturbed by the overturning of Roe v. Wade. I think that it upset 50 years with precedent. And I think a lot of people just want to go back to before it was overturned. I think that’s what we should do here in the State of Wisconsin. We had some restrictions on abortion — we had, I believe it was a 20 week ban. Maybe it was 22? I’m not exactly sure. But it was it was a moderate set time that we had on a lot of cases here in Wisconsin, of course, we had exceptions for rape and incest beyond that. I think that that would be the best option is to go back to where we were before the passage or the overturning of Roe v. Wade. And I would say that I would agree with Senator Ron Johnson, which is a strange statement that I have never really thought about saying a lot. And we should have a statewide referendum. And I think that’s why Governor Evers called for a special session to approve an amendment to the Wisconsin State Constitution because we have statewide referendums here to allow for a statewide referendum, and let the people decide. Let people decide what they want to be the law of the land. Because I think that the best person, the best people to decide this issue, specifically, is the people of Wisconsin, and I think everybody should get one vote. And we should just have it be dealt with at the end of that.

Deiss (16:29)
All right, Joe, your turn to respond.

Krantz (16:33)
Yeah, so I think it’s important here just to talk about the concept of abortion more ideologically and morally. And, you know, you asked, “what would I do personally, if I was in charge of making this decision? What would the federal or state law be?” and in my opinion, you know, and many conservatives, Christian individuals, believe that abortion is just murder. And we value life in all forms from conception until natural death. So, you know, what we’re seeing here is just a huge difference between the parties, between morals and values, you know, you can refer to it as a fetus, or that it’s not a life until it’s out of the womb or, you know, an argument like that. But we just don’t believe that. We believe that a human life is a human life from conception until natural death, and so I think it’s important to acknowledge that cases of incest and rape are very tragic. And you know, that’s never an easy situation to deal with. But it’s also important to recognize that that is 1% of abortions. So when we’re talking about this, I think it’s important to recognize that 99% of abortions can often be due to a selfish or unfortunate circumstance. So before we talk about these exceptions, like rape and incest, how about we talk about the majority of abortions, which are just unfortunate circumstances where someone doesn’t want a child?

Deiss (17:54)
Alright, Kevin.

Jacobson (17:59)
Yeah, I think that we also need to address the rights of women. Women should have equal rights and should have equal rights to their own bodies. And they shouldn’t have to allow the state or anyone else to make any decisions for them. It should be up to them, it should be their body, their choice, just as we saw a lot of conservatives call for when it came to vaccines. I think that a lot of people equate — saw these two arguments happening over the course, and it put us on different sides. And it was like, “well, I have a right to my body, and so do I have over vaccines and things like that.” And I think that that extends to this as well. Why would a woman not be able to choose what they want to do with their body? And I think that that’s just the use of religion and things like that. We have separation of church and state here in the United States and we can’t allow for religious doctrine to determine the rights of anyone, especially those, especially women and those who need to have an abortion for medical reasons for rape and incest. I know that they’re not the largest portion of abortion cases. But I think that just allowing women to make the decisions for themselves, and whatever those decisions are, I think that we should trust women and mothers, and make sure that they make the right decision, because it’s their choice.

Deiss (19:26)
All right, Joe. This is the final response.

Krantz (19:30)
Yeah, so just to be clear, you know, you mentioned that, well, it’s “my body my choice” as a woman, I can choose what I want to do with my body. Well, the entire point of our argument is that it’s actually not their body, it’s a child, they can’t make a decision for someone else’s body and someone else’s life. And by aborting that child, you’re ruining any chance of livelihood and any chance, nice life that they could have and you’re cutting that off. And so, you know, conservatives say, “let’s not ruin an unfortunate situation with more violence and murder and taking away even more life.” So at all costs, let’s do what we can to preserve life. So I think there’s really like I said, it’s just a moral and ideological difference between the parties, one side views it, like the majority of human history has viewed it as a human life in the womb, and another is bound by selfish decision making that says, “you know, I made a mistake, or something really unfortunate happened to me, and it’s unfortunate, and we’re very sorry, but then say, let’s make this decision and abort the child.”

Deiss (20:32)
Alright, and that is going to bring us to our last question. This one is about school choice. So Tim Michels, Republican candidate for Governor of Wisconsin, said implementing universal school choice is one of his top priorities. According to the Cap Times, he said he wants to bring competition to the education marketplace. Governor Tony Evers is an opponent of universal school choice, and vetoed bills in April to make private school vouchers available to higher income families. Should universal school choice be implemented in Wisconsin? Why or why not? So I think, Joe, it’s your turn to start, and you have a minute and 30 seconds.

Krantz (21:12)
Yeah, so I believe that universal school choice would be a good option for Wisconsin. And you just have to look at our outcomes right now. Our educational outcomes are very, very low. I couldn’t list a specific figure, but I know that they’re not doing well, compared to how we used to do as the State of Wisconsin. And the entire idea of school choice, as you quoted to Tim Michels, is competition. Competition breeds success, and eventually, better scores and outcomes. If you can find a way to allow your child to go to a school that has better teachers, and is more efficient, then your child is more likely to succeed, you know. And the main argument against school choice is that it’s not fair for lower income families, but the entire idea is that no matter what your income is, you can find some sort of fundamental school, if you’re familiar with that, or a charter school that fits the style of your family preference or your income. You know, I think when people hear about school choice, they just think “oh, okay, so whoever can go off and afford some fancy private school, great.” But I think, you know, bringing this competition into Wisconsin will definitely breed better outcomes. You look to California — since 1970, public school attendance was up 5% and public school employment was up 95%, yet they have the 45th worst outcome in the US. So, you know, this just shows that teachers and teachers unions across the board don’t control the outcomes. And just because, you know, you’re able to staff and employ a great amount of teachers doesn’t mean that these outcomes will be where they’re supposed to be.

Deiss (22:53)
Kevin, here’s your chance to respond.

Jacobson (22:53)
So I think that we should be ensuring high quality public education for every student. I think it’s a foundational belief here in Wisconsin — it was written into many parts of our state constitution. It is something that has been believed for a very long time here in Wisconsin. We have a great public education system, both at the elementary, secondary, and also at our higher education institutions. So I think that we should be funding our public education first. I think that that makes the most sense and it allows for everyone to succeed rather than the students who are able to go to charter and private schools, because even if the vouchers allow everyone to be able to access it, there’s not enough space in those schools to be able to actually take on as many students as they need to. I would say in response to the teacher union portion, we don’t really have robust teacher unions here these days, because they were taken away during Act 10. So I don’t think that that’s really eating up a lot of the costs. I think the fact that most of our public schools have to take all the special education students, which are a large cost, and they deserve to be taught just as everybody else is. But charter and private schools don’t have to take them. And because the state refuses to fully fund special education, and our education system as a whole, it becomes a burden on these school districts. And it pulls them down and devotes resources, because they’re required to give these programs resources, by the state, by the federal government, and we should be providing as many resources to schools as we can.

Deiss (24:30)
Alright, Joe.

Krantz (24:32)
Yeah. So again, I think it just comes down to the idea. And you know, that’s a good point about the teachers union in Wisconsin. That definitely did make an impact on the state of public schools in Wisconsin, but again, at the end of the day, I think it just comes down to competition. If you’re able to recruit teachers that are better at their job, you’re definitely going to see better educational outcomes. And in public schools, you know, you have these stringent rules of tenure, and teachers that may not be the best at their jobs are often able to keep their jobs at public schools, because of unions and because of stringent, you know, precedent and things like that. But if you create new standards where, you know, basically teachers are just prioritized based on quality of teaching, not necessarily just because they’ve been teaching for 10 years, you’re definitely gonna see better outcomes. And so bringing this competition aspect, just like how you run a business, you’re gonna see better outcomes and better scores in Wisconsin.

Deiss (25:30)
And, Kevin, here’s your final response.

Jacobson (25:33)
I’ll start with this: we saw scores decline across the board, not just public schools – private and charter schools went down over the pandemic as well. It was a universal issue. It’s not just public schools. I would say the best way to recruit really good teachers is by having good salaries for teachers. And if we can’t fund public education, they’re not going to ever be able to recruit good teachers, and we have a teacher shortage here in the state of Wisconsin, and that’s because a lot of people don’t want to stay here. After they get their teaching degree. We have a great school of education here at the University of Wisconsin Madison, and it teaches so many teachers and I know some people who are getting education degrees are saying, “well, yeah, I’m getting my education degree and I’m leaving Wisconsin, because it’s horrible for teachers.” We also have an extra reading requirements on our teachers. And that’s put down by the state because our reading scores are a little bit lower than other states. And that puts an additional burden on public schools, but not private schools. Private schools also aren’t subject to a lot of different regulations and other requirements that public schools are. So maybe if we took, had the state take the foot off the neck of public schools, they’d be able to thrive in the way that charter and private schools can.

Deiss (26:46)
Alright, so I kind of lied — that last question wasn’t our last question. But I’m just gonna have to improvise a little because originally, I wanted to ask both of you, “What is one policy that you generally agree with the other party on?” So I just want to make it a little simpler. I’ll give you guys just a little bit of time to think about it. I want you to think of one thing you admire about the way that the opposing party does their politics. So the way that they campaign, the way they build support — just one type of strategy that you wish your party did better, I guess.

Krantz (27:24)
I would say like activism — getting especially like college students or the youth riled up, I think the Democratic Party is very good at getting protesters and activists and people in general just riled up about issues when they’re going on. So you know, it’s always good to use your free speech in that way.

Jacobson (27:40)
I was kind of thinking the same thing for conservatives like that. They’re able to really like always, just like — I don’t think I’ve ever seen like something where they couldn’t get like 20 to 30 people there like instantaneously, and just like, I don’t know, like, if we could actually do that. So I think that’s super interesting to kind of thought about same thing.

Krantz (28:01)
Other than that, I feel like as far as like, campaign strategies, and like other ways, it’s just kind of operating the same.

Jacobson (28:06)
And we also see, like Republicans do something, we’ll take it up. Republicans will see something and they’ll take it. A winning strategy is a winning strategy no matter where you get it from.

Deiss (28:20)
So that’s going to wrap up our debate for tonight. Thank you, Joe and Kevin, for both coming to represent your organizations. All of us at the Badger Herald really appreciate it. If you’re listening to this before the Nov. 8 deadline, make sure to get out there and vote. If not, stay tuned for new episodes of The Badger Herald Podcast.

Transcribed by
Written by Jeffrey Deiss
Produced by Meryl Hubbard

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