Posted by mb50
By Evan Feinberg
Millennials were born free, but everywhere we’re now in chains. The culprit is the skyrocketing national debt levels of the past decade, which have hurt young Americans and Millennials more than anyone else. We’re already facing enough personal debts as it is — and now we’re being asked to pay for everyone else’s.
Our debts start close to home. Today, the average college graduate is trying to pay down $35,200 in student loan debt. If that weren’t bad enough, we’re also looking at a job-market with near-record 16% unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds. That means we have more bills than ever — and fewer jobs to pay them off.
With such burdens, it’s hard for us to plan for the future. But our personal debt problems pale in comparison to the one that politicians are foisting upon us with out-of-control spending in Washington. The national debt, which now clocks in at nearly $17 trillion, continues to grow.
And just like our student loans, we’re going to be stuck with paying the bill.
Unfortunately, paying down these debts becomes harder with every passing day. Our debt to gross domestic product ratio now exceeds 100% — which means our government has produced more debt than the entire American economy produces useful commodities each year. Politically easy proposals such as “taxing the rich” can’t fix this crisis — even taking every last penny of the one percent’s money won’t put a dent in our debt. The U.S. can pay off its debts, but it’s going to take significant to government spending.
Clearly, our elected officials need to make some tough decisions. But they had an opportunity to do just that with the debt ceiling.
Lawmakers once again failed to avoid the complacency that has made continued debt ceiling increases the status quo. Inaction by our elected leaders is at the root of the problem. Passing the buck works great for re-election campaigns, but only at the cost of a bright future for my peers, my children, and every future generation thereafter.
That’s why Millennials need to take a stand. At a bare minimum, we need to demand dollar for dollar cuts as a condition for raising the debt ceiling again in January. That’s right: for every new dollar our government wants to spend, they should also find another dollar to cut or save. Good thing there are no shortage of options.
Major entitlement spending consumed nearly half of the entire federal budget in 2012, and will grow to nearly two-thirds of budget in the next decade. Trustees for both Social Security and Medicare admitted that neither program will survive past 2033 without changes. Only 18% of young Americans actually believe they will receive Social Security benefits. Serious entitlement reform is a necessity, and simply raising the Social Security eligibility age by two years could save $148 billion. The program will collapse without serious reform; the only missing ingredient is political courage.
Fraud, redundancy, and wasteful spending across government agencies are costing taxpayers billions of dollars every year. In light of the recent shutdown, perhaps it’s not such a bad idea to figure out just now “non-essential” some of the federal government really is. Just reforming and reducing the massive federal workforce would save another $150 billion.
Additionally, the federal government owns vast amounts of land west of the Mississippi river — land that’s valued between $500 billion to $1 trillion according to the Congressional Research Service. Selling that land for private use would bring huge financial windfalls that could be used to responsibly pay down federal deficits, and provide untold economic growth. On top of that, the government spends more than $8 billion a year just maintaining 70,000 vacant buildings and properties.
The list of possible changes goes on. Now we just need for our elected officials to have the courage to make these hard choices and stop kicking the can down the road no matter what. It’s time for politicians in Washington to put the next generation before the next election.
Evan Feinberg is the President of Generation Opportunity.