North Carolina Students Wrestle with Federal Budget

Blog Post
Tuesday, February 20, 2018

This is a guest blog post by Marjorie Dufek, the North Carolina coordinator for The Concord Coalition.

“A $20 trillion debt is insane, and our representatives carry a huge responsibility, with so many sides to each issue. With so many choices, it’s hard to see which is the right one.”

This from East Carolina University political science major Conner Willis, as quoted in Greenville’s Daily Reflector about her experience at the “Principles & Priorities” event held on the ECU campus on Feb. 10.

She added: “ I didn’t realize there are so many decisions they make, including military spending and so many taxes I didn’t even know about. One thing I know: It’s very important who you vote for.”

To my ears, it was the sound of a successful event. As a nation, we are making commitments today that these students will be paying for in the future. Instead of leaving them a legacy of a strong economy, we are leaving them a mountain of debt.

That’s not the legacy I want to leave the next generation, and I was glad to raise their awareness of the issues. Principles & Priorities is a federal budget exercise developed by The Concord Coalition.

An ECU senior, Madison Buchness, said “most of the things we talked about today, I’ve never even thought about.” WCTI also interviewed a participating professor who said “Educational events like this are the best way for people to understand the real need for us to make hard choices”.

Various ages and backgrounds were represented in the group gathered to learn more about the federal budget, with about half of them students. Alethia Cook, chair of the ECU Political Science Department, told me that she was pleased that the students weren’t just “going through the motions” for extra credit, but were actively and enthusiastically engaged in the discussions about the federal budget’s complexity, with its choices and tradeoffs.

The groups argued, compromised, and ultimately agreed on deficit  reductions ranging from $2 trillion to $3 trillion dollars over the next 10 years. The team leaders will join me in discussing the results with Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), who provided opening remarks at the event and encouraged the participants to “spread the word” to their friends and family about the urgency of addressing the federal debt and deficits.

WITN also reported on the event.