Will Pawlenty be a student-friendly candidate?

With caucuses and primaries less than a year away, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced forming an exploratory committee for a 2012 presidential campaign. In the typical fashion of his party and potential opponents, Pawlenty offers a message of limited government and spending cuts, with a major emphasis on repealing “Obamacare.”

Whether or not a college student labels him/herself as a Republican, a conservative or if he/she supports or rejects the president’s health care reform, all students and recent graduates reap the benefit of one of Obama’s measures: the law requiring insurance companies to allow children to remain on their parents’ plan until age 26.

Certainly, I don’t view this measure as a “free-pass” for students and graduates to put off finding a decent job with health benefits for as long as possible. However, the reality is that current students are graduating into an extremely competitive and unfriendly job market. Ultimately, allowing young professionals a few years to develop a career and stabilize their personal finances before taking on the extra burden of a health insurance payment will lead to a more stable and prosperous population of young professionals.

According to Pawlenty’s writings and interviews found on his website, he advocates a complete repeal of “Obamacare,” with no noticeable mention of his opinion on this specific reform. In a video released with the announcement of his exploratory committee, however, Pawlenty proclaims America’s future relies on helping small businesses and innovators succeed, a principle that, fundamentally, both parties agree upon.

What Pawlenty apparently fails to realize is that this measure directly impacts our generation’s ability to become financially stable, enabling us to become the “dreamers and innovators” he heralds. Regardless of the fact that Republicans, including students, for the most part oppose Obama’s overall health care reform, it remains, from an economic development standpoint, in their best interest to support this measure. Throughout the upcoming election season, all students need to send a message that we expect Republican legislators to come to a compromise and support young professionals. Likewise, Pawlenty and his fellow Republican candidates need to send a message that they support students and our economic potential by accepting and recognizing this measure as beneficial to all.

Students: if we want to secure a brighter economic future, we simply can’t keep a Republican vs. Democrat mindset and should regard this issue as a top red flag when Pawlenty and his like-minded opponents begin campaigning against “Obamacare.”

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