How to research a disadvantage: Part two – Uniqueness

In preparation for our January tournament, here’s a brief post a series of four posts on the basics of researching and debating a disadvantage.

Part one: Intro to disadvantages

Part two: Uniqueness research

Part three: Link research

Part four: Impact research

First, uniqueness:

For a spending disadvantage, we’ll need to find an argument that the government is controlled in its spending now. Not easily done, if you’ve been reading the news lately. Good uniqueness research takes a bit of craftmanship and lots of searching for the right words.

Google is an indispensable research tool, but you have to learn to use it right. If we just google “spending uniqueness” or “spending is low” you will come up with no relevant hits. For uniqueness, I usually like to start by looking on Google News. Click on “News” on the top bar of Google.com and you’ll be able to search recent articles from all over the world. Beware of non-reputable news sources; Google news also usually displays articles from blogs and regional newspapers that might be of no help to you.

So what should we search for? Here you have to patiently look for the right set of words, and don’t get discouraged if you don’t find exactly what you want.

– I first searched for “fiscal discipline” which is a term that means the government is being careful about spending money. This came up with no relevant results because right now Europe is going through a ton of budget problems and most people who are writing about “fiscal discipline” are writing about that issue. But we’re looking for the US. Grrr…frustrating.

– Next I tried “spending low” – too generic a phrase, and articles about spending on low-income houses come up.

– Next I entered “spending cuts” – thinking that if I can find examples of cuts the government has put on programs, that will prove that the US is trying. I found a couple good arguments, but you have to look deeper than just the first result that pops up. It takes quite a while to be able to quickly sift through what’s garbage and what’s relevant. In the first five pages of results, I found two articles that were pretty relevant.

Automatic federal budget cuts will hurt many – Philadelphia Inquirer

Failure of the budget supercommittee will trigger $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts

Philadelphia Inquirer 12/15 (“Automatic federal budget cuts will hurt many,” December 15, 2011 http://articles.philly.com/2011-12-15/news/30520664_1_spending-cuts-budget-cuts-nondefense-discretionary-spending)

NOW THAT the supercommittee charged with reducing our nation’s debt has failed, a series of automatic budget cuts – cuts that will harm our children – is scheduled to go into effect beginning in 2013. The Budget Control Act passed by Congress in August established that the absence of a compromise agreement would trigger $1.2 trillion in spending cuts spread over 10 years, split equally between defense and nondefense discretionary spending. Reports from the Congressional Budget Office and other organizations show that nonexempt discretionary programs could be cut by as much as 9 percent in 2013 (mandatory programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps are protected from cuts).

New Gov’t Shutdown Averted with $1.1 Trillion Deal – Fiscal Times

Government Spending Constrained – Budget Agreement

Fiscal Times 12/16 (“New Gov’t Shutdown Averted with 1.1 Trillion Deal,” http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2011/12/16/New-Govt-Shutdown-Averted-with-1-Point-1-Trillion-Deal.aspx#page1)

Congress signed off on a massive $1.18 trillion government spending measure on Friday that averted another feared government shutdown this weekend and showed that bipartisanship is occasionally still possible in the poisoned political atmosphere on Capitol Hill. The bill, assuring adequate government funding through the remainder of fiscal 2012 next October, emerged late Thursday from the chaos of the final days of congressional negotiations over efforts to extend a two percentage point Social Security payroll tax cut for another year and to continue to provide extended unemployment insurance benefits to millions of Americans. The House approved the bill, 296 to 121 this afternoon, and the Senate was expected to follow suit later in the day. Although House and Senate negotiators cut spending levels for basic government operations, emergencies, disaster and the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts by nearly $31 billion below last year’s levels, or 2.5 percent, Republicans, Democrats and the White House all emerged from the intense weeks of talks with victories they could point to. “We were able to complete a bipartisan, bicameral compromise that rolls back federal budgets, makes smart investment in programs people rely on, and implement policy changes that will bolster American business and our economy,” said House Appropriations Committee Harold Rogers, R-Ky. “As with any compromise, this bill isn’t perfect, but it represents the kind of responsible governing that will help move our country forward.”

I had to read a little into both to find out if they were relevant, and probably clicked on about 10 or 15 articles to find these two.

You want to come up with a couple different uniqueness arguments, although you usually only read one in the 1nc. If the affirmative challenges your uniqueness, the 2nc can bring up other pieces of evidence. I was able to come up with this, which could probably be tailored more specifically to what the affirmative is doing:

Spending is constrained on Military, Energy and R and D

Fiscal Times 12/16 (“New Gov’t Shutdown Averted with 1.1 Trillion Deal,” http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2011/12/16/New-Govt-Shutdown-Averted-with-1-Point-1-Trillion-Deal.aspx#page2)

Homeland Security. As the U.S. officially ends the war in Iraq and shifts its investment in the national security agency to focus on domestic issues, its budget will take a $2 billion hit to bring total spending down to $39.6 billion. The bill calls for increased staffing levels for border control, immigration enforcement and other essential security personnel.

Military Construction. As part of the Veterans Affairs bill, funding for the nation’s military with the infrastructure needed to house, train and equip military personnel will decrease by $3.5 billion taking it to $13.1 billion. It would provide a total of 48 new family housing construction projects and 80 replacement projects.

Research and Development. GOP Defense hawks largely won in the area of defense by increasing the department’s overall budget by $5.1 billion. However one area within the Department of Defense’s budget—research and development of new technologies—lost $2.5 billion from its budget, bringing it to $72.4 billion.

Department of Energy loan guarantee. It’s no surprise that the entire $181 million in funding for DOE loan guarantees were eliminated given the recent Solyndra scandal. This includes terminating the program that funded the shuttered solar company Solyndra, which exhausted half a billion dollars of taxpayer money.

Next Step: Links

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