Climate Change & the Environment
Over the past century, human activities have released large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Greenhouse gases act like a blanket around Earth, trapping energy in the atmosphere and causing it to warm.
The majority of greenhouse gases come from burning fossil fuels, so cutting down on fossil fuel usage would significantly reduce the adverse effects of climate change.
Fortunately, renewable energy is on the rise, providing a way to produce energy without releasing greenhouse gases.
For example, in 1977, the price of solar PV cells was $76.67 for a watt of power, whereas in 2020, it only costs $0.13 per watt.
Additionally, in 2018, renewable energy accounted for 28% of global energy production.
Should the United States transition to renewable energy?
Fracking has provided immense benefits to the U.S. economy such as creating millions of jobs and reducing energy and gas prices.
However, fracking has major environmental impacts. For example, fracking releases methane into the atmosphere, pollutes surrounding ecosystems, and causes earthquakes.
Should the United States ban fracking?
The Paris Agreement
Paris Agreement is a
environmental agreement that nearly every nation is a part of.
Its goal is to address the issue of climate change and its negative impacts by substantially reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.
The agreement includes commitments to cut back on pollution from all major emitting countries and to assist developing nations with reducing their emissions.
Should the United States rejoin the Paris Agreement?
About 44 million Americans collectively owe about $1.6 trillion in student debt, and nearly 1 in 4 borrowers are in default or struggling to be on time.
Should the government forgive student-loan debt?
Since the 1900s, tuition for public colleges has increased roughly twice as fast as the inflation rate. This has made it significantly harder for middle class citizens to pay for their education, which has led to significantly increased student debt loans.
Should public colleges be free?
Should there be a death penalty?
Mandatory Minimum Sentences
Mandatory minimum sentences are set by Congress, not judges and require automatic, minimum prison terms for certain crimes. Most mandatory minimum sentences apply to drug offenses, but Congress has also enacted them for other crimes, including certain gun, pornography, and economic offenses.
Should there be mandatory minimum prison sentences?
There has been a lot of discussion in the United States recently regarding chokeholds and aggressive force exerted by the police. This was most strongly prompted by officer Derek Chauvin's aggressive use of a chokehold by kneeling on George Floyd's neck. As of September 2020, at least 32 of the nation's 65 largest police departments have banned the use of neck restraints.
Should there be a ban on chokeholds used by police?
In 2017, 39,773 people died from gun-related injuries in the U.S.
However, gun death rates are generally lower in states with restrictions such as safe-storage requirements or assault-weapons bans.
Should it be harder to buy a gun?
Since 1982, there have been 114 mass shootings in which 932 people were killed and 1,406 were wounded.
Wounds caused by assault weapons are more severe
and lethal than wounds caused by other firearms, and, particularly when paired with high-capacity magazines, assault
weapons can injure more people more quickly.
Because of this lethality, assault weapons are frequently the guns of choice for individuals who carry out horrific public attacks.
Should assault weapons be banned?
Marijuana is a Schedule I drug, meaning it has no accepted medical use and has a higher potential for abuse than Schedule II drugs such as cocaine and meth.
However, two-thirds of Americans favor marijuana legalization, and at the start of 2020, recreational marijuana was legal in 11 states, and legal for medical use in 33 states.
Should recreational marijuana be legal?
Transgender People in the Military
In 2014, there were an estimated 1,300 to 6,600 transgender individuals serving in the military, making up between 0.1 and 0.5 percent of the total active military.
the military has spent about $8 million on transgender care since 2016 out of its $50 billion overall health care budget.
Should transgender people be allowed to serve in the US military?
Immigrants today account for 13.6% of the U.S. population. Of those immigrants, 23% are undocumented.
Undocumented immigrants pay an average of $11.64 billion in state and local taxes a year. Moreover, all immigrants—regardless of status—will contribute approximately $80,000 more in taxes than government services used over their lifetime.
Should there be a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants?
Southern Border Wall
The southern U.S. border has around 650 miles of a variety of barriers, however there are many technologies, devices, and border security personnel that work together to prevent drugs, human trafficking, and people from illegally entering the United States.
In 2000, over 1.6 millon people were arrested illegally crossing the border. However arrests have declined since then, totalling nearly 978,000 in 2019.
Should the United States continue to expand the southern border wall?
More than 1 million immigrants arrive in the U.S. each year, providing increased economic growth and expanding the workforce.
However, too much immigration can put a pressure on public services like healthcare and education, and can potentially crowd the low-skill labor market, driving down wages.
Should there be more limits on legal immigration to the United States?
Foreign Policy and Defense
2015 Iran Nuclear Deal
In 2015, Iran
and the P5+1 reached a historic
called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of
Action, popularly known as the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
As part of the deal, Iran agreed to reduce its number of centrifuges by two-thirds. It also agreed to reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium by 98% and limit uranium enrichment to 3.67%.
In exchange, Iran gained access to more than $100bn in assets frozen overseas, and was able to resume selling oil on international markets and using the global financial system for trade.
However, in May 2018, Trump abandoned the deal and in November that year, he reinstated sanctions targeting both Iran and states that trade with it.
Should the United States return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal?
The most recent budget includes $989 billion for U.S. military spending—the second largest item in the budget after Social Security.
The United States spends more on defense than the next ten countries combined.
Should the United States decrease military spending?
War on Terror
In the wake of the attacks of 9/11, President George W.
Bush called for a global "War on Terror,"
launching an ongoing effort to thwart terrorists before they act.
As a result, the U.S. now has between 60,000 and 70,000 troops in the Middle East to combat threats such as terrorism in Iraq and Syria, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
However, it has cost the U.S. not just $6 trillion, but also the lives of thousands of soldiers and civilians.
Should the United States withdraw troops from the Middle East?
Throughout history, Congress
has raised the minimum wage 22 times. The current level, at $7.25 an hour,
was set in 2009.
Cities and states have the option of setting their own minimum wages. As of 2020, 32 states have a minimum wage rate above the federal level.
Should the federal minimum wage be increased to $15/hour?
Tax revenues are used for public services and the operation of the government, as well as for programs such as Social Security and Medicare.
When taxes are
decreased, it allows people to have more disposable income, boosting the economy.
However, tax increases are needed to fund ambitious government initiatives such as forgiving student debt.
Should federal taxes be increased?
Affordable Care Act
The average cost of a 3-day hospital stay is around $30,000. People without health coverage are exposed to these extreme costs. This can sometimes lead people without coverage into deep debt or even into bankruptcy.
Affordable Care Act,
also known as Obamacare, was designed to give health insurance to the millions of
The act prevented private insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions, and covered a list of "essential health benefits" such as prescription medications and pregnancy.
However, private insurance companies would make a loss if too many people with pre-existing conditions and not enough healthy people signed up. To address this, nearly all American's had to have health insurance, or be subject to a tax penantly.
Should the United States repeal the Affordable Care Act?
Abortion is currenty legal in all 50 states as a result of Roe v. Wade, a landmark Supreme Court case that essentially legalized abortion nationally.
However, four states have passed “heartbeat” bills this year, banning abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Alabama also passed a near-total ban on abortion at any stage of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest.
These bills have yet to take effect, as they conflict with Roe v. Wade. They either have been or will be challenged in court, and the cases could make it all the way to the Supreme Court, giving the Court a chance to revisit and possibly overturn Roe.