After a recent “Budgets & Beers” presentation concerning federal budget problems — notably a massive and growing debt — I was asked: “What hope do we have for the future?”
That is a good question, one that comes up frequently when people begin to understand the depth of the country’s fiscal problems.
Fortunately, there is much hope — especially if younger Americans become more aware of our nation’s fiscal challenges and engaged in the search for solutions.
In fact, with the support of some generous sponsors, I am working on a new initiative in New Hampshire with The Concord Coalition. Aimed at getting my fellow young adults more involved in fiscal reform efforts, this initiative is taking several forms, with “Pinot & Policy” and “Budgets & Beers” for the after-hours crowd and “Budgets & Bagels” for the early risers.
Each event begins with food, drinks and networking, then moves on to a brief presentation and lively discussion of how federal budget issues impact attendees and how changes in policy might shape the future.
This event series has already helped renew my hope for lasting change in the face of significant fiscal challenges confronting Americans today and that are likely to impact future generations as well.
The simple truth is that our nation is experiencing quite a dilemma.
The massive baby boom generation is retiring and many of its members are receiving their benefits from Social Security and Medicare. The problem is that the federal government did not plan all that well for this transition.
Social Security will eventually see benefit cuts if policy changes are not made to put it on a more sustainable path. Medicare is experiencing rapidly increasing costs that premiums and payroll taxes come nowhere near covering.
And interest on the federal debt is projected to claim more and more of the government’s tax revenue. That revenue is also reduced by many ill-considered special provisions in the tax code.
All this limits the government’s ability to invest in the future.
To address these issues, it would not be right to pull the rug out from older Americans. Nor should the burden of reform fall entirely onto the shoulders of younger workers and future generations. There should be some level of shared sacrifice.
Moreover, effective and lasting reforms will require bipartisan negotiation and cooperation; they have proven to be too difficult for one party to enact on its own.
The concerns and questions that have come up at the New Hampshire events are on the right track. How much can Millennials count on Social Security? How can our nation change course so that it can invest in key domestic initiatives and programs? How do we get Congress to take a more bipartisan approach to fiscal reform? What can younger individuals do?
We at The Concord Coalition hope this event series, and the conversations that it sparks, will help motivate personal action. That action can, and should, take many forms, including calling congressional representatives, writing letters to the editor, encouraging community education efforts and sharing information through social media.
Every action can help. Everyone, especially Millennials, has a stake in the country’s current and future fiscal stability and strength.
The next installment of this event series will be “Budgets & Bagels,” on June 28 in Manchester. More information on that program is available here.