- Our Story
The Can Kicks Back began as a collaboration in June 2012 between a group of young people from opposite coasts, opposite parties and opposite ends of our generation’s age spectrum.
Individually, we had all reached the same conclusion: young Americans stand to lose the most if Washington continues to avoid addressing the growing generational imbalance in our federal budget – yet we are completely absent from the debate on this issue.
Collectively, we decided that a solution to this problem requires a non-partisan, grassroots campaign to educate, organize and mobilize our generation and demand meaningful action from our leaders in Washington.
Most of our team has been active on this issue since 2009 when we, rather accidentally, learned about this issue by catching a documentary on TV. Shortly after, we launched a website called “We Can’t Pay That Tab” to create a conversation between policymakers and young Americans. We made a push in 2010 to support the creation of a bipartisan fiscal commission in Congress. And when the president created his own commission, we testified before it.
We launched a social media campaign and sent a letter to our elected leaders signed by over 150 student body presidents to advocate for a “grand bargain” during the debt ceiling negotiations in 2011. Heck, a couple of us even tried drafting a former U.S. Comptroller General as an independent candidate for President in 2012.
Some of these efforts were more successful than others, but all of them gave us the opportunity to see Washington’s can kicking up close: a handful of Republican senators who torpedoed the Congressional fiscal commission by dropping off as co-sponsors; a Democratic president who essentially ignored the recommendations of his own deficit commission; a bipartisan “super-committee” that failed in its task of forging a developing a deficit reduction plan that would prevent dramatic across-the-board cuts; a presidential campaign that was devoid of substance and specifics.
All the while, our fiscal problem has grown larger. All the while, we have grown more frustrated, but also more committed. So here we are today ready to take our efforts to the next level. Our experience has shown us that young people will get involved once they learn about this issue and are given a way to make an impact. And now is the time for our generation to step up, as the opportunity for a long-term and comprehensive debt deal is on the immediate horizon.