As Congress examines president Donald Trump’s proposed budget, it’s important to keep in mind who has the most at stake in our fiscal future: Millennials.
The budget proposal would impose deep cuts to many spending programs that invest in our future, but at the same time it relies on disputed projections for economic growth—meaning that, if enacted, the budget might increase our $20 trillion national debt even higher than it’s already projected to go. But our economic future depends on lawmakers working collaboratively to tackle the many tough choices that have gone unaddressed for far too long—and if we don’t get serious about addressing the debt, Millennials like myself will see our economic opportunities diminished.
As a college student, I want to enter the workforce in a growing, thriving economy. But unless we change our fiscal course, federal debt will climb to levels that will damage the economy and my generation’s future. How we address the national debt will affect Millennials’ earning power, our opportunities to be entrepreneurs, and the future for our families.
As the daughter of two immigrants who is preparing to graduate from college and enter the workforce, these concerns are personal for me. I’m an aspiring entrepreneur, and economic stability is the foundation for a thriving social enterprise like the one I want to create. The growing national debt jeopardizes that foundation.
An unstable economy makes borrowing more expensive, decreases consumer confidence, and discourages cautious investors to take risks on the innovations we need most. As someone who wants to achieve her own “American dream,” I can’t help but be concerned when I see figures predicting that our serious debt problem will decrease the income of a four-person family by $16,000 in 2047.
But while there’s plenty of reason for concern about the national debt, there’s also ample reason for hope.
A truly eye-opening experience that exposed me to the power of bipartisan solutions—an experience that may have some lessons for our leaders in Washington—came through participating in the Up to Us competition. Up to Us is a program that engages and educates young Americans on the national debt, and the effect it will have on economic opportunity for our generation. Campus-based teams compete by designing creative, informative, and nonpartisan campaigns to raise awareness of America’s fiscal challenges.
I personally joined the Up to Us movement because I was excited to be part of a nonpartisan, nationwide campaign that gives college students a chance to be the voice of their generation. I was excited to be part of a program that encouraged us to think outside of political parties and political agendas to create innovative solutions to this country’s fiscal and economic challenges.
It was inspiring to see students so moved and impassioned by the events and dialogue my team and I sparked on campus. It was also inspiring to see Democrats and Republicans alike sitting down and discussing an issue that affects all Americans. I learned just how powerful young minds could be when an issue is addressed. When you take away the titles of “Republican” and “Democrat,” the debate and conversation become far more insightful. People become more respectful and actually listen to others’ perspectives rather than instinctively try to tear them down.
I felt a sense of urgency among students and politicians alike, when we asked what most concerned them and how it should be addressed. According to a survey from the Global Strategy Group and North Star Opinion Research, 90% of Millennials believe that younger Americans would benefit from the country coming up with a long-term plan to address the national debt.
If college students with extremely diverse thought processes and political affiliations can sit down and thoughtfully address the challenges pertaining to our federal budget, why is the Washington debate so dominated by partisanship? Our policymakers need to turn off their ideological blinders and focus on protecting the vitality of this country by addressing our unsustainable fiscal trajectory.
As Congress debates the Trump budget, members need to be open to bipartisan solutions that realistically deal with our debt and build the economy of the future that we need. We can’t afford to wait. The Millennial generation is the largest living generation in American history, and as Millennials continue to join the work force, their impact on the economy is going to be massive. Simply put, addressing the national debt means a brighter future and more opportunities for the largest generation in this nation’s history. It is up to us to secure our fiscal future and take action now.