December 7, 2009
The Concord Coalition and Peter G. Peterson Foundation on Monday will reveal the results of a joint effort to spur activism about the U.S. debt through the creation of advisory councils in six regions.
The U.S. debt is going to have “a bigger impact on your life than you may realize,” warns Pound-It.org, a Web site run by University of Pennsylvania students. Created in parallel to the Concord-Peterson effort, the Web site engagingly guides visitors through different aspects of the threat posed by continued U.S. deficit spending, such as showing a hypothetical senator in 2028 facing a choice of “political suicide” through cutting benefits for baby boomers or letting the government slide even further into debt. “Our goal is to start a discussion about balancing the needs of the elderly and the futures of the young,” Pound-It.org says. “Check out our site for more info. Help us turn that $10 trillion debt into a thing of the past!” (Ironically, the $10 trillion debt already is a thing of the past. The total debt in fact crossed the $12 billion mark last month.)
Looking at recommendations from across the country, the Concord-Peterson project found common themes, including calls for overhauls of health care and Social Security. The project had established six advisory councils, which were based in Atlanta, Iowa, northern California, northern Virginia, Milwaukee and Philadelphia. “In our experience, concerned citizens – given the facts and realistic trade-offs—are willing to consider a wide range of policy options,” noted Robert L. Bixby, the executive director of the Concord Coalition, in the report. He expects the councils to continue working to raise awareness of the severity of the debt problem. The report notes that by the time today’s 20-year-olds reach retirement age, the overall cost of government as a share of (the economy, or gross domestic product) may reach levels not seen since World War II. “But instead of spending the money on a temporary emergency, we would be spending it on a permanent stream of rising benefit payments.”