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what is a counter plan

Let’s imagine that you have a problem—you are hungry. You want to eat at Willy’s. You drive there, ready for a tasty treat, but it is closed. What do you do next? You might go next door and eat at Moe’s. Coming up with an alternative to the original plan (Willy’s) because it had a disadvantage (it was closed) created a counterplan (Moe’s).

So, a counterplan (CP) is a plan advocated by the negative as an alternative to the plan.

What is a counter plan?
why does the neg run counterplans

Sometimes, it is more strategic to agree with the aff team that they have correctly identified a problem and to argue that there is a better way to solve the problem, rather than denying the scope of the problem.

In other words… It gives the negative defense against aff case so that the DA to the case can outweigh.

Why does the neg run counterplans?
what is a counter plan1

The idea that the counterplan is an ALTERNATIVE to the affirmative plan is essential.

The job of the negative is to REFUTE the proposal made by the affirmative, not to just offer an unrelated advocacy.

If the neg were allowed to just make unrelated counter-proposals, we would have a public speaking contest, not a debate.

What is a counter plan?
how does a counterplan compete

How can the negative make sure that there counterplan competes with (refutes) the aff plan?

  • 2 basic ways. The negative must prove that:
    • The counterplan and the plan literally cannot co-exist. In this case, the counterplan is MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE.
    • -OR-
    • That there is a disadvantage to doing both at the same time. In this case, the counterplan is NET BENEFICIAL.
How does a counterplan compete?
how do these examples compete

#1 Plan: The USFG should invest in the planning and completion of a national High-Speed Rail system. Counterplan: The USFG should invest in the planning and completion of a national HSR system EXCEPT in California. DA: Building HSR in California would wreck their budget.

#2 Plan: The USFG should invest in the planning and completion of a national High-Speed Rail system. Counterplan: The USFG should not invest in the planning and completion of a national High-Speed Rail system. DA: The budget disad.

How do these examples compete?
how do these examples compete1

#1 Plan: The USFG should invest in the planning and completion of a national High-Speed Rail system. Counterplan: The USFG should invest in the planning and completion of a national HSR system EXCEPT in California.DA: Building HSR in California would wreck their budget.

This competes as a mutually exclusive PIC—the aff says eliminate and the neg carves out an exception.

#2 Plan: The USFG should invest in the planning and completion of a national High-Speed Rail system. Counterplan: The USFG should not invest in the planning and completion of a national High-Speed Rail system. DA: The budget disad.

This is also mutually exclusive—it is the opposite of the plan.

How do these examples compete?
how do these examples compete2

#3 Plan: The President should issue an executive order to invest in the planning and completion of a national High-Speed Rail system. Counterplan: The Congress should invest in the planning and completion of a national High-Speech Rail System. DA: Independent action by the Congress is necessary to reign in excessive Presidential authority.

#4 Plan: The President should issue an executive order to invest in the planning and completion of a national High-Speed Rail system. Note: the aff argues that this would solve global warming. Counterplan: The President should lift restrictions on nuclear power. Note: they argue this would be a better way to solve warming. DA: Budget.

How do these examples compete?
how do these examples compete3

#3 Plan: The President should issue an executive order to invest in the planning and completion of a national High-Speed Rail system. Counterplan: The Congress should invest in the planning and completion of a national High-Speech Rail System. DA: Independent action by the Congress is necessary to reign in excessive Presidential authority.

This CP is net beneficial—there is a DA that links to the plan but not the CP.

#4 Plan: The President should issue an executive order to invest in the planning and completion of a national High-Speed Rail system. Note: the aff argues that this would solve global warming. Counterplan: The President should lift restrictions on nuclear power. Note: they argue this would be a better way to solve warming. DA: Budget.

This CP is net beneficial—there is a DA that links to the plan but not the CP.

How do these examples compete?
how does the aff respond to a cp

Basically, the aff wants to make the same sort of arguments that they would make on the negative if the counterplan were an aff plan + a few CP specific theory arguments. The aff could argue that:

    • 1) The counterplan does not solve the aff
    • 2) The counterplan links to the negative’s DA
    • 3) The aff can read a new DA to the CP
    • 4) The aff can make arguments regarding the disposition of the CP (theory objections that we will cover later)
    • 5) The aff can make theory arguments that are specific to the type of CP (such as arguing that state fiat is illegitimate, or that PICs are bad, or that agent CPs are bad—we will also cover this later)
    • 6) The aff can argue that the counterplan does not compete and therefore should be rejected (this is a permutation)
How does the aff respond to a CP?
what is a permutation

Arguing that the counterplan does not compete is a very powerful tool for the aff. If it is BOTH possible to do both the plan and the CP and desirable to do both, then the negative loses the CP.

The way the aff makes this point is by asking the judge to imagine a combination of the aff plan and all or part of the counterplan. This is called a permutation.

What is a permutation?
what is a permutation1

For example…#4 Plan: The President should issue an executive order to invest in the planning and completion of a national High-Speed Rail system. Counterplan: The President should lift restrictions on nuclear power. Note: they argue this would be a better way to solve warming. DA: High-speed rail hurts the environment.

Affsays… “Permutation, do both the plan and the counterplan. If we lifted restrictions on nuclear power it would provide a power source for HSR that would no longer use coal.”

What is a permutation?
what is a permutation2

Plan: The USFG should invest in the planning and completion of a national High-Speed Rail system. Counterplan: The 50 states should invest in the planning and completion of HSR. DA: The President will lose political capital if he fights with the Congress for a HSR, this prevents him from passing climate legislation, climate legislation key to preventing nuclear war.

Aff says… “Permutation, do both the plan and the counterplan. It is possible for both the USFG and the states to enact the plan and desirable because the states can get around litigation rules, and the Congress will no longer blame Obama and so he can still pass climate legislation.”

What is a permutation?
what is a permutation3

Plan: The USFG should invest in the planning and completion of a national High-Speed Rail system. Counterplan: The USFG should ban investment in the planning and completion of a national HSR system and lift restrictions on nuclear power.

What is the snag with “do both” in this instance? The CP bans the creation of the HSR so it is mutually exclusive. Now we are back to the unrelated good idea/oratory contest. How does the aff avoid having to debate this CP? Remember: a permutation is all of the plan + all OR PART of the counterplan.

So, the aff says: “Permutation, do the plan and lift restrictions on nuclear power that will avoid nuclear war. The counterplan is simply not competitive.”

What is a permutation?
what is a permutation4

Special note: You will often hear affirmative teams only say “Perm: do both” and then move on. This is a silly approach because it does not require the negative to do anything more than cross-apply the DA links. A more complete explanation (as demonstrated in the last 3 slides) is far more likely to win the debate.

What is a permutation?