What is the situation?
According to the Department of the Treasury, the National Debt of the United States of America totals $19.1 trillion and is climbing rapidly. On March 10, 2016, using current population statistics, every person in the United States personally owed $59,108.14 on the federal debt while every taxpayer, using 2015 numbers, carried a whopping $190,430.55. The National Debt in 1996? $5.2 trillion.
How did this happen?
The answer is far from simple, but some glaring events over the past 16 years point in the right direction. Two large scale wars with simultaneous tax cuts. A failed economy in 2008. Eight years of failed attempts to revive that economy. A disastrous $831 billion stimulus package that simply did not jumpstart the American economy. An $800 billion job-killing, big government, health insurance takeover. From 2009-2012, federal budget deficits of $1.5 trillion, $1.3 trillion, $1.3 trillion, and $1.1 trillion, respectively. Up until 2009, the federal budget deficit of the United States had never exceeded 1 trillion dollars.
It is irresponsible to cut taxes and simply hope that the resulting increase in economic activity will eventually raise enough revenue, i.e., Donald Trump. It is equally irresponsible, and positively outrageous, to raise taxes and increase spending even further than current levels. According to the American Tax Foundation, a certain earthy-crunchy Vermont senator’s tax plan would result in a 9.5% decline in GDP, an 18.6% decline in investment, a 4.3% fall in wages, and a loss of 5,973,000 jobs.
What can young Americans do to reverse this trend?
The path forward is not simple. It is not easy. The path forward requires drastic measures for a truly desperate time. The path forward requires young Americans to resist the urge to buy into false promises by politicians on both sides of the aisle and make informed decisions about the future of our country.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has a wonderful tool on its website that allows users to make choices regarding the federal budget based on a wide array of policy options. The goal of the calculator is to reduce the size of the national debt to 60% of GDP by 2024.
In my simulation, I was able to save the federal government $7.2 trillion dollars in comparison to the current federal budget. Under my plan, the national debt will be 51% of GDP by 2021, 9% lower and three years prior to the goal of 60% by 2024 that will stabilize our federal debt and make it sustainable into the future.
Here are the top 5 areas where I saved money:
- Repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and Keep Cuts to Medicare and Medicaid -$1,010 billion
- Eliminate the State and Local Tax Deduction from Federal Taxes -$970 billion
- Block Grant Medicaid and Grow with Inflation Plus Population Growth -$860 billion
- Raise Social Security Earnings Cap to Include 90% of Earnings -$550 billion
- Gradually Phase-Out Mortgage Interest Deduction -$510 billion
Here are 5 areas where I saved money that everyone would agree on:
- Cut International Assistance Programs by 25% -$150 billion
- Enact the Buffett Rule -$90 billion
- Raise the Normal Retirement Age to 70 -$80 billion
- Replace Joint Strike Fighter Program with F-16s and F/A-18s -$50 billion
- Cancel the Ground Combat Vehicle and Defer Deployment of the Long-Range Bomber -$50 billion
Young Americans must stand up and declare, “Bring it on!” We must say, “No!” to promises of free healthcare, free college, and damaging regulations on businesses and families. We must fight for policies that result in an American economy where hard work and equal opportunity result in a high paying job and economic prosperity for all those that try to achieve it. As Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said, “We promise equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.”
Our generation must have the courage to make difficult choices. Maybe we have to pay a little bit more in taxes than our parents. Perhaps we must recognize that we are living longer lives and that retirement at 70 is not in the least outrageous. Possibly, our Medicare and Social Security may look a little different than those of our parents and grandparents. But these are necessary changes. We, the millennial generation, can save our country if we are willing to shoulder the cost.