Opinion

It’s time for Millennials to fight back on the national debt

Politicians from both sides of the aisle constantly talk about the great concern they have for their children and grandchildren. Yet, when it comes time to actually make tough choices, both parties are all too willing to forget about the future in favor of positioning for the next election. This is especially true when it comes to the national debt; at over $16 trillion, the national debt is killing the American Dream for the next generation.

If you are between the ages of 18 and 32, you are the children and grandchildren politicians are referring to and the dream being killed is yours. We can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines and hope that our parents and grandparents will make the right choices for our future. Millennials represent more than a fifth of the current population and will make up 28 percent of the workforce in 2014. We have the power to make a difference and those running for office should be listening.

A great first step is signing the Citizen’s Petition to Fix the Debt — a grassroots petition that will demonstrate to Washington that solving our national debt crisis is a top priority for Americans of all ages.

Together with The Campaign to Fix the Debt and other organizations, we represent an unprecedented national, bipartisan effort that includes business leaders, former members of Congress and other concerned individuals who want to change the inaction in Washington around the debt crisis. Our goal is to build national support for a debt reduction plan that Congress can pass and the president will sign by 2013.

We urge Millennials to join the groundswell of support from people across the political spectrum and across generations to educate policymakers on the potentially grave impacts of their indecision. We are asking policymakers to understand that the decision they make today will determine the kind of country we — their children and grandchildren — inherit tomorrow.

The growing gap between government revenues and expenses means much of this spending, 35 percent, is being put on our tab for future payment. Consider that by 2024, our government will be paying over $1 trillion a year just to pay the interest on the debt. That’s nearly a third of the entire 2012 budget.

Just imagine whatever it is that is important to you: job growth, education, supporting innovation or starting a family. Then try and figure out how our country can support what you care about when the first trillion dollars of its budget every year goes to paying interest. As long as this mountain of debt exists, Millennials will not have the same access to opportunity as previous generations have had. At every turn we’ll be denied the chance to see our hard work and sacrifice pay off like it should.

A lower standard of living should be unacceptable to our generation. Politicians can’t be allowed to kick our future off the fiscal cliff. It’s time to fight back.

We need to come together and force our leaders to confront the tough decisions they have been putting off. If we hope to pass a grand bargain, we will need to establish a dialogue between generations.

Over the next few months, through the election and into next year, we will proudly be helping bring this message to Millennials. Our goal is to foster greater understanding of the consequences of inaction and to provide a platform for the voices of our generation to be heard. You can start by joining our campaign and signing the Citizen’s Petition at www.fixthedebt.org.

Ryan Schoenike and Nick Troiano are co-founders of “The Can Kicks Back,” a Millennial-driven campaign to solve America’s fiscal crisis. For more information, visit www.TheCanKicksBack.org.