Like many people my age I financed my college education with loans. At the time I gave little thought to graduating college with what amounted to a mortgage. I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to get an education but soon after graduating I began to realize the position I was in. Instead of viewing the world as an open book I started to see that many of the pages had already been written. Put simply student loan debt limited my choices. It prevented me from doing many of the things that I dreamed of in college.
A few years ago I happened to be hanging out on a buddy’s couch and caught a documentary on the national debt, growing deficits and the challenges President Obama faced in reining them in. The two of us began to think about what this meant for our generation, who was going to pay the bill and most importantly who was speaking for us.
The debt is a complicated problem and because politicians have chosen to blame rather than explain most of us only understand the problem in terms of partisan talking points. For me though the debt quickly resonated because the country seemed to be headed toward the same problem I already faced – A situation where past choices limit future ones.
That’s ultimately what the debt means for our generation, limited choices. Do we invest in education or programs that protect the disadvantaged; do we raise taxes or cut entitlement programs? By not acting and delaying decisions the leaders of today leave the leaders of tomorrow and all of us with few options. But it’s not just the future that suffers, the government has failed to pass a budget over the past three years and continues to set tax rates in a last minute, cramming for an exam type fashion. They are creating a tremendous cloud of uncertainty for us and the world. As a result it’s hard for many businesses to plan and hire. That means fewer jobs for all of us.
No doubt that both parties will continue to drag out this fight in the media. They’ll tell you this is about Social Security, Medicare and taxes. Which is correct, but what they won’t tell you is that it’s not about taxes and entitlements today, it’s about what they look like tomorrow and that’s why I’m involved. Every decision we delay is a cut to programs and an increased tax on our future. Our voice is underrepresented in Washington and we need to come together to make sure we are heard.