December 20, 2014

A Student Voice in the Debt Debate?

By Ryan Schoenike

The debate over our nation’s finances has now reached what seems to be common place in Washington. As our country sits on the verge of default, both parties have retreated to their partisan foxholes, only coming out to throw the next dose of heated political rhetoric. In addition, nearly every interest group in Washington is scrambling to make sure its programs don’t get cut. Those without a voice stand to lose the most from this argument.

Until now a voice that has been absent from the conversation was that of students. Americans in college now and the rest of the Millennial Generation stand to inherit a growing $14 trillion debt, trillions more in unfunded entitlement programs, bleak job prospects and a lower standard of living than their parents.

What started as conversation between three Georgetown students on a bus about the gridlock in Washington over the debt ceiling quickly turned into a small team working to make their voice heard. They came up with an idea and one question for our leaders: “Do We Have A Deal Yet?”    

The idea was simple. Write a letter to the president and leaders in Congress urging them to not only raise the debt ceiling but take this opportunity to enact bold, balanced and bipartisan deficit reduction. A plan that would help ensure that the next generation had the same opportunities to grow and prosper as the one before it. Then ask student body presidents around the country to sign onto the letter. Currently over 120 student body presidents representing close to 2 million students have signed on. The ranks continue to grow and the letter has made its way to the White House.

So often we hear politicians say that we are passing on our debt to our children and grandchildren as if they were not even born yet. Next time you hear that remember that some of those children are in college and working now. We do have a voice and that voice wants to know “Do We Have A Deal Yet?”

To read the letter, see a list of signatories and learn more about this student lead initiative go to DoWeHaveADealYet.com.

Ryan Schoenike is a member of The Concord Coalition’s Youth Advisory Board and part of the Do We Have A Deal Yet? team.