Fireside Chat

Leaders Discuss Energy, Immigration in Forum

By Timothy Sabin

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Institute of World Affairs at UW-Milwaukee held a forum at the Fireside Lounge discussing topics such as federal policy on immigration, government investment for new energy technology, national security, and views of NAFTA-style free trade agreements around the world. The most time was spent on the first topic: Federal policy on immigration. Ted Kanavas, co-chair of the Wisconsin Romney campaign, represented the Republican side and Jason Rae from the Democratic National Committee represented the Democrats. David D. Haynes, Editorial page editor for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, was there to moderate the event and keep the marketplace of ideas flowing. A PowerPoint slide was presented showing polls of what American citizens thought of each topic.

Haynes started the discussion by saying “The immigration system is clearly broken. What do we do?” Kanavas immediately stated that all illegal immigrants should be sent back to their original countries and wait their turn to come back to American legally. He argued “If you come into the country by breaking a law, you are no longer a law abiding citizen.” Rae completely disagreed thinking it would be unfair to send everyone back to their original countries. He thought illegal immigrants deserve a chance to make it in America, saying “We have to find a way to allow these immigrants to become citizens. Instead of sending them back, they could serve in the military or go for a college degree.” This topic prompted five members of the audience to come forward with a question before Haynes cut them off saying “This is a topic we could talk about all night, and I would love to, but it’s time to move on.”

The next topic was about government investment for new energy technology. During this discussion Rae talked about how we need to preserve our resources and protect our lakes and forests while Kanavas blasted Obama, saying “Trying to create jobs in the green sector has been a failure during Obama’s term.”

This led into a discussion about national security which was focused around economic competition from China. Rae thinks the solution for competing with China is simple. He says, “We must out-build China. It starts here with education. We must educate so we can compete with China.” Kanavas says Mitt Romney has a much more cynical view when it comes to China, stating “Governor Romney is very concerned about China. He feels they not only steal our intellectual property, but they spy on our country.” Kanavas also mentioned that Romney feels there should be sanctions on China for these actions.

Lastly, there was a short discussion on the US pursuing free trade agreements. Kanavas took over on this topic, citing his software designing background. He said “Our product is thinking about stuff and creating. We want free markets. We can out-innovate anyone.” After asking the audience of approximately 70 people if there were any more questions, the forum was over, lasting 90 minutes.

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