The Cato Institute vs. The Heritage Foundation debate, held Wednesday night, is an annual sparring of two well-known think tanks where interns debate the principles of Libertarianism and Conservatism.
The debate was moderated by Senior Political Columnist for The Washington Examiner, Tim Carney. Carney said that Conservatives and Libertarians might have a similar philosophical identity, but noted that there are deep divides, too.
The two sides debated on a number of issues, but none were more heated or contested than the “legalization of all drugs.”
Heritage members generally stood for stricter laws against drug usage while Cato members took a more laissez-faire approach to drug laws. Cato members believed there could be a better way to combat drug use in the U.S. than enacting stricter laws.
“More people die every year in the war on drugs than on ‘overdosing’,” said Cato intern, Matthew Cavedon. “It is time to open our eyes and give people something to look forward to besides a jail cell.”
But Heritage did not distinguish between the use of marijuana and hard drugs.
“Is a man addicted to drugs truly free?” said Heritage intern Keith Neely. “Conservatives can agree that the current war on drugs is a failure.” Neely said drugs should not be legalized just because people are still doing them.
Another issue of contention between Cato and Heritage is whether or not the defense budget should be cut.
“We propose cutting waste by not nation building [with our military],” said Cato intern Jack Solowey.
Solowey said that if we eliminated unnecessary equipment for the military and reduced the federal deficit, the U.S. would eliminate much of the national security threat.
Heritage agreed there was room to make cuts in the defense budget, but cuts to the military should only go so far and be a last resort.
“If we make cuts in defense spending, it hurts us so much more in the long run,” said Neely.