Debt-Limit Negotiations Aren’t Just About the Elderly
This week’s deficit and debt-limit negotiations between President Barack Obama and the GOP have focused on proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security—none of which are issues considered likely to fire up young people. However, young people must and will watch this debate closely and view the outcome as a true indicator of our leaders’ commitment to America’s economic stability and success.
The Obama administration has put an unprecedented emphasis on initiatives meant to improve the lives of young people. Take, for example, the Recovery Act and the Health Care Education and Reconciliation Act, two pieces of legislation that made historic and investments in job training, education grants, and expanded healthcare options. Indeed, Obama and many members of Congress have stepped up and tried to find solutions to challenges facing young people However, young people between the ages of 18-24 suffer from an unemployment rate of 16.9 percent—almost twice that of the rest of the nation—and the outlook for jobs is not getting any better. According to the New York Times, currently, only 53 percent of college graduates from the classes 2006-2010 are employed full-time.
My generation knows a lot about managing debt. Because of rising education costs, abysmal job prospects, and increased cost of living in many cities, we are borrowing tens of thousands of dollars just to get by. Much like the federal government, we must make tough choices about where we want to invest our limited resources. For many young Americans the choice is clear but not simple. We want and we choose to invest in our futures by taking out college loans, enrolling in job training programs, but we need Congress and the president to continue to stand with us to give us the best chance to succeed.
In an effort to avoid raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has proposed cutting subsidies for low-income colleges students who already borrow an average of $25,000 in education loans. This notion is simply offensive to young people. The idea that the wealthiest country in the world cannot afford to invest in the economic mobility and stability of our country, especially during a time of recession, is absurd.
We will not allow members of Congress to demand sacrifice from the young, poor, and elderly while protecting the wallets of millionaire and corporations. Even if Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are taken off the table in the negotiations, inevitably other vital federal programs that serve communities in need will remain on the chopping block. We know there are tough choices ahead for our leaders, but every effort must be made to arrive at a fair approach to addressing the economic challenges facing our country. We will not stand idly by and have a message for all of our leaders: rest assured, we are watching these proceedings closely, and will remember what side you were on the next time we enter the voting booth.
Angela is the policy and advocacy manager for Campus Progress. She graduated from Western Michigan University.
- With No Clear Trend in Youth Vote, A Challenge Awaits Progressives
- You Won’t Believe Which Government Policy Is More Profitable Than Exxon
- Here’s One Way to End Poverty
- Borrowers of Color Need More Options to Reduce Their Student-Loan Debt
- As Tuition Aid for the Poor Withers, Awards for the Wealthy Ratchet Up