NFHS Announces Resolutions for 2012-2013 Ballot

The National Federation of State High School Associations held its annual topic meeting this weekend in Denver. The following topics were selected for the 2012-2013 balloting:

  1. Civil Rights — Resolved: The United States federal government should amend Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, substantially increasing its protections against race and/or gender discrimination.

  2. Entitlement Reform — Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially limit the growth of its Medicare and/or Social Security spending.

  3. Higher Education — Resolved: The United States federal government should establish an education policy substantially increasing its support for postsecondary education in the United States.

  4. Immigration — Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its legal protection of economic migrants in the United States.

  5. Infrastructure — Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its transportation infrastructure investment in the United States.

Congratulations to the authors of these topic papers and thank you to the representatives who attended the meeting for their time and service.

What do y’all think of this slate of topics? Which is your favorite? Which is going to win?

Updated to reflect correct wordings for resolutions 2 and 5. Thanks, Alderete.

22 thoughts on “NFHS Announces Resolutions for 2012-2013 Ballot

  1. Bill Batterman Post author

    I know it's cool to bash on the topic committee but I actually think this is a very good slate of resolutions. The 50-State Mirror Counterplan makes it hard to craft a debatable domestic topic but these are solid; 1, 4, and 5 have relatively strong "fed key warrants" (scare quotes because I loath that phrase) while 2 is obviously solely a federal responsibility. The higher education topic is the only one that I think doesn't make sense in a world where the states CP is accepted.

    If I was an oddsmaker, I'd have Entitlement Reform as the early favorite.

    1. jjj

      Personally, I think 5 (Infrastructure) is a fantastic resolution. It couldn't be more topical during an economic crisis when most economists are calling for another stimulus and it has enough variety with the inclusion of telecommunications (internet, satellites, etc) to make for some interesting debates. There is also strong critical aff ground in terms of environmental and social justice.

  2. jjj

    Also, could someone who debated/coached last years college topic explain the substantive differences between that and this immigration resolution (#4)? I know overlap could be a concern here.

    1. ChanderRamesh

      The college topic was focused on increasing eligibility for a particular visa, whereas this is more about increasing protection for those who are already in the US. The aft couldn't directly change immigration laws to allow more people into the US, for example.

  3. Scottyp4313nr Post author

    1. Civil rights- this seems doomed for a HS topic- on the college topic where usually research/strategies are better the topic was dominated by agent strategies, and since the rez mandates congressional action that will probably happen again in high school. Also, there just isn't a ton of great debates to be had here- biz con da vs social change advantage will get old fast.

    2. Entitlement- Love it. This will be by far the best topic on the list, especially because between now and next year a TON of fresh scholarly/think tank work will get done on this question. Has way more ground for topic specific cp/pic and DA work than any of the other topics. If it doesn't win its a genocide.

    3. Education- awful, states cp, next

    4. Immigration- was a mediocre college topic. The college wording dealt with increasing visas for immigration- so basically letting more people into the country legally (though this was gamed extensively). This topic seems to call for increasing rights (legal protections???) for people who are already here- though I have no idea what an "economic migrant" is technically classified as- in a year of research on the college topic this was not a term of art I ever came across. A quick google makes it seem like it most likely refers to "migrant workers" whether they are legal or not. I think this will be another disaster.

    5. Infrastructure- not nearly as deep as people think it will be. The topic will be similar to education/civil rights- dominated by agent strategies and not case specific debates (with pics being a possible exception).

    When picking a controversy area/resolution, you need to pick something that has diverse ground for both sides. Most of the examples above fall short- the primary reason we don't do X( the resolution) is political or financial, not ideological. This makes for crappy debates.

  4. timalderete

    I'm not sure that #2 is the correct version of the resolution. The final one that was sent out to us was Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially limit the growth of its Medicare and/or Social Security spending.

  5. timalderete

    Also, #5 should be: Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its transportation infrastructure investment in the United States.

  6. Scottyp4313nr Post author

    Revised entitlement wording seems much worse/likely to produce lots of "you cut current spending/not limit future" T args.

    1. timalderete

      The problem with "reduce spending", and the reason that it was altered, is that due to demographic trends (baby boomer retirement) not even the most drastic serious reform proposals would decrease spending in, say, 2020 below what we spend today in 2011. What we wanted to ensure was that with the plan, you would spend less in 2020 than you would spend without the plan – even though both of them would spend more than 2011. So, it was designed to avoid lots of "you don't cut below current spending levels" topicality arguments and keep it closer to realistic proposals.

      1. Scottyp4313nr Post author

        TA,

        I guess I don't see why this wording fixes it. Wouldn't this aff be topical: Medicare will grow 1,000 percent per year, only allow it to grow 500% per year?

        1. timalderete

          Yes – that would be topical – and that is the intended outcome of the rewording. Because the percentage of growth with the plan is sustainable – growth in future revenue from economic growth would be able to pay for it.

          Essentially, there is no feasible policy where there is an actual decrease from today's levels of spending – for Social Security, that is because of demographic trends, for Medicare that is because of a combination of demographics and rising health care rates. Both wordings were discussed, and it was thought that this wording better matched up with reform policies advocated by the literature. The only cases that "reduce spending" would allow are ones that are too unrealistic, like banning entitlement programs.

          1. Scottyp4313nr Post author

            That seems odd. Projected growth is speculative. Lets say for a hypothetical everyone agrees that medicare will grow 15% per year. Now a team gets up and says "medicare will grow 50% per year, we limit it to 20%"- that is now topical?

            Every major proposal for entitlement reform (means testing, raising retirement age etc) seems it would limit actual spending now as well as future.

          2. KKernoff

            I don't think this is a T problem. We don't know exactly how much Medicare spending will grow now, but decreasing eligibility will definitely make spending less than what would otherwise be the case.

            It's also not really a problem for advantages and DAs – people writing about entitlements use projected growth as the baseline.

          3. Scottyp4313nr Post author

            If cases that limit eligibility do more than limit growth people will say they aren't topical. The fact that growth is unknown, and the topic calls for regulating an unknown allows for cases that make superficial/imaginary changes. Other than politics "doing something spends capital" what is the possible link to the example case above?

          4. KKernoff

            Do you have an example of an aff that might be considered extra-topical that you think should be included? The two examples you gave above – means testing and raising the retirement age – clearly decrease spending and don't seem to include anything that doesn't.

            I'm also not sure that small affs will be that much of a problem. What is the advantage to cutting Medicare/Social Security a tiny bit? The DA to cutting even a tiny bit is huge – it's the third rail of politics and even the Tea Party doesn't want to cut it. In addition to political capital, there's a very strong elections DA.

          5. Scottyp4313nr Post author

            Means testing does a lot more than "limit growth" (which it doesn't even do), it would cut existing spending. Once existing spending is cut, it may still grow at a similar (if not exactly the same) rate since there aren't a ton of new billionaires getting added all the time. Same with raising the retirement age, it does not mandate a limit in growth, it changes who is eligible, if less people started dieing before retirement growth could INCREASE despite the plan. None of those cases require a decrease in growth.

            The advantage is obviously irrelevant- see any number of teams over the past decade who take dumb affs that don't link to anything and string together a million stupid 25 internal link card advantages. It is easier in infinite prep to string together a shoddy advantage than to respond in round with a meaningful disad link. Your politics link, I guess I should have been clearer, is meaningless because the plan doesn't actually cut anything- it creates a legal limit that is still above projected growth by all reasonable people.

          6. timalderete

            Means testing limits the growth of spending – it doesn't necessarily limit spending to less spending than exists today. From the topic paper source:

            “Means testing” — cutting back on payments to the relatively wealthy — is one way to better allocate benefits. For health care costs, this could be done by expanding Medicaid, which is focused on the needs of the poor, and making it an entirely federal program rather than one partly paid for by the states. At the same time, the government would need to limit the growth of Medicare, which is universally applied to all elderly people; as a segment of American society, the elderly are relatively wealthy. With limited resources, it would be better to reallocate health care subsidies toward the poor, whether they are young or old.

          7. Scottyp4313nr Post author

            Let me try and explain this again. Lets say X is projected to grow at 3 %. Limiting the growth of X would be to make a law that prevents X from growing above a number less than 3.

            Means testing does not limit, growth can continue at the current rate, or at a higher rate, after means testing is implemented.

            The obvious analogy to this is the college topic which said something like require decreased fossil fuel consumption. Raising fuel economy standards could reduce consumption, but it could also increase consumption via the rebound effect.

            The card alderete posted I don't see the point of. It does not say means testing limits, in fact I am pretty sure it says the opposite- it says means testing better allocates benefits, then says "at the same time (i.e. at the same time as means testing) " the gov should limit growth.

          8. timalderete

            My apologies – I thought that your issue was with the term "the growth" rather than "limit". As I understand it, your issue is that "limit" means "cap" – that the plan would have to place a cap on the growth rate, and not let the growth rate go above that level.

            I think that again, the literature supports limiting the growth of both programs. There are explicit proposals to Cap overall Medicare and Social Security spending – authors seem to use Cap differently from Limit, while they seem to use Limit the Growth and Reduce spending synonymously.

          9. timalderete

            Each year, the Board of Trustees for the CMS is required by the Social Security Act to submit projections and recommendations to Congress on the financial health of Medicare. It is the authoritative source on Medicare predictions for the government. It uses the terms "reducing…cost growth" and "slow the rate of growth" to describe Medicare reform legislation. While I understand the potential for small cases, that has to be weighed against the potential disadvantage of limiting the resolution to only the most drastic proposals:

            "The differences between the current-law projections and the illustrative alternative … serve[s] as a compelling reminder of the importance of developing and implementing further means of reducing health care cost growth in the coming years….

            Through most of Medicare’s history, trust fund income has kept pace with increases in expenditures.21 Under current law, total Medicare income is estimated to increase at a significantly faster rate (7.8 percent annually) than expenditures during 2011-2020.

            21This balance resulted from ,,, frequent legislation designed to slow the rate of growth in expenditures. "

            For instance, Means Testing would not be topical under "Reduce Spending" – it is not drastic enough. It does, however, limit the growth of Medicare spending. From the topic paper source:

            "“Means testing” — cutting back on payments to the relatively wealthy — is one way to better allocate benefits. … the government would need to limit the growth of Medicare, which is universally applied to all elderly people; as a segment of American society, the elderly are relatively wealthy. With limited resources, it would be better to reallocate health care subsidies toward the poor, whether they are young or old."

            When the literature uses the term "reduce costs" it often uses it to mean "limit costs" – as in the example of Obamacare – slowing the rate of increase can allow gradual changes. The Board of Trustees again:

            "The Affordable Care Act introduced important changes to the Medicare program that are designed to reduce costs, increase revenues, expand the scope of benefits, and encourage the development of new systems of health care delivery that will improve health outcomes and cost efficiency. The financial projections in this report indicate a need for additional steps to address Medicare’s remaining financial challenges. Consideration of further reforms should occur in the near future. The sooner solutions are enacted, the more flexible and gradual they can be."

  7. brian_rubaie

    I want to echo Scotty's initial support for entitlement reform.

    I've heard a few common objections;

    1. "The college topic proves topics right on the cutting edge are undesirable." This isn't a fair comparison. Democratic transitions in the Middle East are driven by daily events on the ground outside of the control of U.S. policy-makers. This is also the primary cause for a deficiency of solvency advocates. Entitlement reform is very different. While it's a hot topic, it moves at a glacial pace. Experts in the U.S. have written about it for years and developed a variety of excellent proposals.

    2. "Projected growth is speculative." I think this is a fair criticism. It will be difficult to numerically quantify, but not impossible. While scholars routinely dispute the amount and rate of projected spending increases (see http://theincidentaleconomist.com/wordpress/medic… I think this is a good thing for debate. Debaters could get into the technical details of economic data. While subjective, I think the debate would be a great one to have.

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