Students: Economy biggest concern in election
The United States economy is in its worst shape since the Great Depression, some analysts say, and UH students consider it to be the country’s most imporant issue leading up to the 2008 presidential election.
The economy was considered the most important issue by 68 percent of voters in a non-scientific poll of 100 students conducted by The Daily Cougar.
The other issues students could choose from were the war in Iraq, health care and immigration. The war in Iraq ranked second with 14 percent of the votes, while health care ranked closely behind with 12 percent. Bringing up the rear was immigration, which only received 6 percent of votes.
The poll asked students to rank the issues from most to least important. Students were also asked to explain why they consider certain issues more important than others, and how these issues affect them.
"Without a functioning economy the other (issues) are affected," philosophy graduate student Leigh Martinez said.
Responses such as these come amid economic turmoil throughout the country. The Dow dropped below 10,000 points on Monday, and more than 600,000 jobs have been lost since Jan. 1, according to a report on CNNMoney.com.
Fortune 500 banks Washington Mutual and Wachovia collapsed recently because of fear of a potential run on deposits by the banks’ consumers, and many other companies have faltered because of the economic crisis.
President George W. Bush signed a revised version of the $700 billion bailout Friday, which allows the government to spend billions on bad mortgage-related securities and other assets controlled by troubled financial organizations. Some of the funding for the plan will come from American taxpayers.
Many students said they were in support of a bailout plan.
Education junior Scott Sternberg said a bailout plan "must pass no matter the circumstances."
University Studies sophomore Eric Guerin echoed that sentiment.
"We are in the midst of an economic crisis in which our government must act upon immediately," Guerin said.
The war in Iraq claimed second place in the poll with 14 percent. Several students oppose the war, saying it costs the country a lot of money and contributed to the ongoing recession.
"I am really against the war," accounting junior Ajmal Saleem said. "The war in turn has caused the American economy to be in a huge deficit, while the money spent could’ve gone to (other issues)."
Presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama said he wants to begin a phased redeployment from Iraq. Sen. John McCain is against withdrawal until Iraq can "stand on its own," according to his Web site.
"Now that (Iraq) is a democracy, they should act like one and start defending themselves," public relations junior Nick Davis said. "Let them handle their own business."
There are varying views on America’s health care system, and a number of UH students expressed concern about affordability and availability. Forty-seven million people in the United States do not have health insurance.
"It’s important to have health care everyone can afford," sociology junior Nathaniel Gomez said. "I’d like to know that my family will have the means to be taken care of no matter what."
McCain supports health care reform that would make health insurance more affordable.
Obama is also in favor of cheaper health insurance, and according to his Web site, he would like to cut current costs by as much as $2,500 per family a year.
"Health care (is the biggest issue) because taking care of people is the No. 1 priority," Chinese studies senior Ben Mauldin said.
Immigration is a huge concern among Texans, but surprisingly, only a few participants felt it was the most important issue.
"Bush actually has a good (immigration) policy, so if that got carried through it would be good, since it’s definitely an issue that affects Texans," English junior Kate Mathalone said.
Some students said there are other issues the government can handle that will help correct America’s economic woes.
"The government needs to invest in alternative fuels, because gas prices are bad," information systems and technology sophomore Kelvin Tran said. "This will cause the economy to get worse."
These issues will play a huge role in deciding the next president, but for now UH students would like to see the economy improve no matter who is in charge.
"If the economy goes under, it’s the end. It’s the worst crisis since the depression," finance junior Todd Akin said.
Additional reporting by communication professor David McHam’s Advanced Writing and Reporting class.