Right now the deficit debate in Washington is hotter than ever. If you’re like most Americans you’re already turned off by the partisan politics that have come along with it. So out of habit you’ll tune out what is being said and hope it goes away. After all Baseball starts in April and Football will hopefully pick up again in September, but as a Young American you should be paying particular attention to what is being said right now. Currently politicians are forming opinions and taking stances that will affect the rest of your life.
Just the other week Paul Ryan (R-WI), Chairman of the House Budget Committee released $35 billion in proposed cuts to the budget. Those cuts included about $5 billion from the Department of Energy, $12 billion from transportation and $13 billion from defense. Then later in the week the House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY), released more specific cuts. That included $899 million from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewables, $1.1 billion of the Office of Science, $2 billion from job training programs and $74 million from the FBI. This all lead to the house passing cuts that would total $60 billion this year. Among the cuts are an end to funding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (PBS), a 15% cut to college Pell Grants, an end to funding for AmeriCorps and a 40% cut to programs that fight AIDS, malaria and hunger.
Are these the right cuts to be making? Maybe or maybe not, but at any rate Millennials need to come to the table and start joining the conversation. Making the wrong cuts could put our generation at a serious competitive disadvantage in the future. You should also be aware that Congress is only currently looking at non-defense discretionary programs that amount to about 14% of the budget. To understand how small that really is consider that the combination of defense and Medicare make up about 42%.
So what is the right plan? Well some excellent proposals have been put on the table. A few of the most talked about include The President’s Fiscal Commission, Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America and Domenici-Rivlin plan. There are a lot of great ideas in all these plans and any one of them would be better then inaction, but a Millennial solution needs to go further. As a generation growing up in a world where we will be competing with countries like China, India and Brazil we will need a plan that is pro-growth – And not just through tax reform. A plan where the government makes strategic investments, cuts waste, tackles entitlements and overall becomes more efficient. We need a plan that paints a picture of where America wants to be in 5, 10, 20 years and lays out a map with turn-by-turn directions that shows us how to get there. A plan that gives Millennials the opportunity that we grew up hearing about, the same opportunity our parents had.
Young Americans need to be weary of politicians that cut blindly to satisfy their base, or one’s who refuse to cut to satisfy theirs. Millennials are coming of age in a different world. We will be facing issues and competition like this country has never seen and we have to make sure we are prepared. There is no way that we will have the tax base to support older generations and pay down our $14 trillion-plus debt if we don’t have the growth and innovation that has made this country what it is today.