National Urban Debate Topic for 2009-2010

Obama encourages new programs such as debate in publc and private schools.

Obama encourages new programs such as debate in publc and private schools.


Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase social services for persons living in poverty in the United States.

Unfortunately, more than four decades after Michael Harrington identified those living in poverty as “The Other America,” poverty is still an endemic problem in the United States. In 2005, close to 13 percent of the total U.S. population – about 37 million people – were counted as living below the poverty line, a number that essentially remained unchanged from 2004. Of these, 12.3 million were children. Poverty is associated with many harmful outcomes, including poor health, crime, educational difficulties, and other social problems. Poverty continues to plague our society despite over four decades of national effort and trillions of dollars in federal spending to combat it. In a nation as wealthy as the United States, such a high level of poverty is certainly appropriate for the examination and reflection provided by a variety of debates on the topic. Affirmatives advocating this topic will be able to defend a wide range of social services designed to both ameliorate the harms of poverty and to reduce the number of people living in poverty. These services would include expanding child care, health care, food stamps, housing assistance, mental health care, educational assistance, Early Head Start and job training, among others. Negatives would be able to debate against the harms of poverty, questioning the ability of various plans to solve the problems identified and offering many disadvantages, including spending, politics, federalism and net widening. They would also be able to counterplan many of the affirmative plans with the state counterplan. The negative would also have several critical options, including objectivism, statism, dependency, and even critiquing the use of the term poverty.

Author: Chuck Ballingall, California

This excerpt was originally produced by the National Federation of High Schools

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