Opposing Political Groups Team Up for Economic Dialogue

Published Feb 14, 2012. By Zach C. Cohen. In The Eagle (American University).

AU College Democrats and AU Students for Liberty cosponsored a showing of the Concord Coalition’s fiscal documentary “I.O.U.S.A.” Feb. 9.

“I.O.U.S.A.” is a warning on the future of the United States’ current fiscal policy and growing national debt. The film follows two men, former U.S. Comptroller-General David Walker and Executive Director of the Concord Coalition Robert Bixby, as they tour the nation on a “Fiscal Wake-Up Tour” in 2008.

The Concord Coalition is a bipartisan group founded in 1992 to raise awareness of the problem of the national debt, according to the film.

The coalition focuses on the necessity of fiscal discipline and reform and combats the widespread misconceptions about the deficit among the public, Smith and Isenburg said. It avoids specific policy solutions to remain bipartisan, according to the film.

Concord’s National Political Director Phil Smith and Chief Budget Counsel Cliff Isenberg were also at the screening and later talked to the audience about the Concord Coalition.

Smith said the movie is still relevant even four years later.

“The numbers may have changed, but the general trends have stayed the same,” he said.

Smith said past deficits were the result of deliberate action on the part of the president or Congress.

However, future deficits will most likely be structural in nature as the exploding costs of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security force ever-growing deficits, he said.

Ian Hitchcock, a sophomore in the School of Communication, said he came to the screening because he was intrigued by the name of the film.

“It’s kind of a double entendre,” Hitchcock said. “There’s obviously the literal interpretation, that we owe the whole country. But there’s the other interpretation, too, that the government owes it to the public to do a decent job.”

Isenberg later addressed this issue in the question-answer session, saying the government has failed to provide solutions to the nation’s debt issues. “Well, it’s really things like that that show the depth of the leadership deficit here in America,” Isenberg said. “Neither side is willing to risk their ‘sacred cows.’ The Democrats won’t touch entitlements, and the Republicans will fight a tax increase to the bitter end.”

Ben Ritz, sophomore in SOC, had seen “I.O.U.S.A.” some time ago, and it inspired him to get involved with the budget issue.

“Well, we don’t agree on many things, but we all do agree that the national budget is unsustainable and intolerable,” said Ritz, who is the fiscal policy director for AU Dems and the organizer of the event.

“So, even when we disagree a lot we still team up sometime[s],” said Alex McHugh, president of AU Students for Liberty. “It’s all about keeping the discussion going and challenging people to think critically about the issues! Neither of us can do that as well on our own.”

More College Democrats than Students for Liberty members were able to go the event due to scheduling conflicts, McHugh said.

The two groups previously teamed up to host a screening of “Waiting for Superman” Feb. 8 and a debate on U.S. job creation Nov. 15.