Key issues for Madison College students

Bailey Ayres and Megan Behnke

We recently polled a class of 15 Madison College students representing varying areas of study and ages to find out what their top concerns are as students heading to the polls on April 5.

The top six issues they cited were: security/campus carry, student loan debt and tuition, access to health care, women’s health/Planned Parenthood, jobs and immigration. These are hot button issues for both democratic and republican candidates and from a review of their websites and debate responses, here is where they stand.

Access to health care

Republicans are staunchly opposed to the Affordable Care Act, the signature domestic policy achievement of President Obama’s administration. They want to get rid of it. Clinton says she would keep most of the health care overhaul, while Sanders wants to move to a single-payer health care system through Medicare.


Immigration has been a particularly contentious issue in the Republican primary, providing fodder for numerous attacks.

Trump wants to deport all undocumented individuals, freeze green cards and ban all Muslims from entering the United States, at least temporarily.

Cruz, on his website, notes, “A Cruz Administration’s first priority for immigration reform will be to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. We will: Build a wall that works. The unsecured border with Mexico invites illegal immigrants, criminals, and terrorists to tread on American soil. I will complete the wall. Triple the number of Border Patrol agents. Securing the border is the federal government’s obligation. I will dedicate the force necessary to do that. Increase vital aerial surveillance and other technology along the border. Adding boots on the ground is not enough. Eyes in the sky and other equipment are necessary to find and detain all illegal entrants.”

On, Kasich is quoted as saying, “In 1986 Ronald Reagan basically said the people who were here, if they were law-abiding, could stay. But, what didn’t happen is we didn’t build the walls effectively and we didn’t control the border. We need to control our border. But if people think that we are going to ship 11 million people who are law-abiding, who are in this country, and somehow pick them up at their house and ship them out to Mexico, think about the families. Think about the children. So, you know what the answer really is? If they have been law-abiding, they pay a penalty. They get to stay. We protect the wall. Anybody else comes over, they go back. But for the 11 million people, come on, folks. We all know you can’t pick them up and ship them across, back across the border. It’s a silly argument. It is not an adult argument. It makes no sense.”

Clinton calls for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to full and equal citizenship. She says immigration enforcement must be humane and targeted — and she’ll end family detention and close private detention centers.

On his website, Sanders says, “As president, I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform that provides a roadmap to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring Americans living in this country. But I will not wait for Congress to act. I will take executive action to accomplish what Congress has failed to do and build upon President Obama’s executive orders to unite families.”

Student loan debt/Tuition

Clinton rolled out her New College Compact, saying, “No family and should have to borrow to pay tuition at a public college or university. And everyone who has student debt should be able to finance it at lower rates.” She has said community college should be tuition-free for every American. She plans to offer $175 billion in grants to states that guarantee that students would not have to take out loans to cover tuition at four-year public colleges and universities. Clinton would pay for the plan by capping the value of itemized deductions that wealthy families can take on their tax returns.

Sanders says he also wants to make tuition free at public colleges and universities, cut student loan interest rates, allow Americans to refinance student loans at today’s interest rates, stop the federal government from making a profit on student loans and allow students to use need-based financial aid and work study programs to make college debt free. The cost of his $75 billion plan he says, would be paid for by imposing a tax on Wall Street speculation.

While Republican frontrunner Donald Trump hasn’t issued an official plan regarding student loans or tuition, he has made one of his views pretty clear. In a July interview with The Hill, and then reiterated in his Twitter feed, Trump said, “That’s probably one of the only things the government shouldn’t make money off — I think it’s terrible that one of the only profit centers we have is student loans.”

Ted Cruz also has not issued a formal plan on education but voted in favor of the bipartisan bill that became law in July 2013, which capped student loan interest rates and fixed them for the life of the loan. He also argued that the U.S .Department of Education should be abolished.

John Kasich believes in holding the line on tuition increases, and freezing college tuition and fees in his own state until a new state task force identifies ways to control their costs. He has also reinforced that education is a local responsibility. Additionally, he has expanded school choice in his own state. Kasich said: “We need to take advantage of online education to reduce the costs.” Kasich proposed downsizing the U.S. Education Department and returning much of its power and funding to individual states, something he reiterated during the debates.


Sanders proposed the Rebuild America Act to invest $1 trillion over five years to modernize the U.S. infrastructure. He writes, “It would be paid for by closing loopholes that allow profitable corporations to avoid paying taxes by, among other things, shifting their profits to the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens. Importantly, the Rebuild American Act will support more than thirteen million good-paying jobs that our economy desperately needs.” He calls for increasing the minimum wage to $15/hour.

Clinton calls for incentivizing businesses to invest directly in their works and provide on-the-job training. She also says she wants to provide a tax credit for businesses that create apprenticeships that lead to jobs, and expand programs that allow federal student aid to be used for “high-quality career and lifelong learning programs with promising or proven records.”

Trump has said he would not raise the minimum raise. According to, he said, “We have to take back jobs from Japan, and Vietnam, and Mexico, and virtually everybody that’s taking our jobs and ruining our manufacturing base. And we have to put people to work. Because the real unemployment number is probably 21 percent. People give up looking for jobs. And they no longer become a statistic. And it’s very unfair. So we have to put our country back to work. We have to get great jobs for people and good paying jobs for people. And we’re going to be just fine.”

Cruz unveiled his Simple Flat Tax Plan, which he says will increase wages by 12.2 percent and create 4.86 million additional jobs. He writes on his website, “We need to audit the Federal Reserve. A rules-based monetary system would restore stability to the dollar and to the international currency system. This will help us get beyond these cycles of boom, bust, and malaise, and return us to rising productivity…”

In the area of job creation, Kasich likes to point to his record in Ohio. He notes that when he took office as governor of Ohio in 2011, Ohio had lost 351,000 private sector jobs and was 48th in the nation in job creation. Under Kasich’s leadership, however, “Ohio has enacted jobs-friendly policies that have helped Ohio job-creators get back on their feet and create hundreds of thousands of new private sector jobs. Additionally, Ohio has become a top-ten state for job creation and far outperformed its own historical job creation performance. Wages are growing faster than the national average, the unemployment rate is better than the national rate and under Governor Kasich the number of new businesses created in Ohio has increased every year and is now at record high levels.”

Security/gun control

A string of mass shootings has reignited the nation’s long-running debate over gun violence. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders say they would push for new restrictions. Sanders view on gun control is complex. He has voted for background checks and a ban on assault rifles, and says he wants to do away with the gun show loophole. Clinton, though, has called out Sanders’s vote in 2005 that shielded gun manufacturers from lawsuits when their guns wind up in crimes.

Republicans have been more or less uniform in their opposition to gun control.

Women’s health/Planned Parenthood

The issue of abortion largely splits the candidates along party lines. Republicans have called for cutting off federal funds for Planned Parenthood.

Sanders writes, “We are not going to allow the extreme right-wing to defund Planned Parenthood, we are going to expand it. Planned Parenthood provides vital healthcare services for millions of women, who rely on its clinics every year for affordable, quality health care services including cancer prevention, STI and HIV testing and general primary health care services.”

Clinton has said she will stand up to Republican attempts to defund Planned Parenthood.