What would you do if you were drowning in loans you couldn’t pay? You probably wouldn’t decide to take a vacation from work, right? Unless, of course, you were a member of the United States Congress; our representatives are scheduled to take six weeks of vacation over the next five months. As the regional director for The Can Kicks Back, a non-partisan organization committed to informing America’s millennial generation about the National Debt Crisis, deductive reasoning led me to the conclusion that, with $16.4 trillion in debt looming over their heads — Congress should probably cancel their plane tickets.
Earlier this week the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its economic outlook report for 2013-2023 and projections solidify that students should be actively advocating for a comprehensive debt reduction plan. Why, you ask? Check this out:
- If you’re on the job hunt: The CBO identified that the national unemployment rate will remain more than 7.5 percent — at least until 2017 — for the sixth consecutive year. With Congress waiting until the 11th hour to agree on spending and tax rates, the job market is further restrained by uncertainty.
- If you’re a student: It’s highly likely that you’re sitting on at least some student loans; congratulations, you’re officially funding the government’s debt. Depending on classification, Federal Student Aid loan rates can be as high as 7.9 percent. The government pays less than 3 percent on the majority of their loans.
- If you pay taxes: Don’t get too comfortable with your current tax rate. The longer leaders spend standing across from one another, glaring over party lines, the more likely you’ll be depositing a larger chunk of your check into the federal pocket. No sustainable fiscal path means more borrowing — which implies more incurred debt and necessary revenue increases.
National security, the environment, investments, health care and entitlement programs are also taking a hit in our current economic state. In 2013, the CBO estimates nearly $43 billion in automatic spending reductions for national defense programs, more than $28 billion in non-defense discretionary spending cuts, $9.9 billion in Medicare spending cuts and $4 billion in cuts to “other” mandatory spending areas. The key word here is “automatic,” it refers to the looming sequestration, which is a dollar amount representing the cap set by the annual budget resolution and the actual approved appropriations. In layman’s terms, if our fearless leaders don’t cut spending before this kicks in — the cuts will be general and, in turn, uncontrolled.
If you’re not sold on the importance of a non-partisan, comprehensive debt solution, maybe this will do the trick: If taxpayers banded together and did the government a solid (paid the debt), each individual would owe more than $146,000. Don’t get too excited, Washington, the average annual income barely breaks $50,000 so it’s highly unlikely U.S. citizens will be picking up this tab for you.
Colorado State University students, regardless of political affiliation or career aspirations, have a stake in the National Debt Crisis. It is our future, so I urge you to do more than stand by and watch as our leaders squabble. Kick back by telling your congressman Cory Gardner, R-CD3, that he should hunker down in his office on Capitol Hill, forget about those six vacation weeks and work toward fixing the debt.