By Kim Reynolds
For all of our history, it has been an article of faith that we in America bestow unto our children and grandchildren a nation that is stronger than the one we were given. Their lives will be better than ours, their future brighter. But lately, that faith has been questioned, that belief called into doubt.
During an economic downturn in which all Americans have been hurt, it is our young people who have suffered the most. The unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 — part of the so-called millennial generation — is at a staggering 16.4 percent, double the national average. With fewer jobs throughout the country, young job-seekers are finding their opportunities to be extremely limited. As a result, the workforce participation rate for these millennials has cratered. It couldn’t come at a worse time.
Our youth are drowning in debt, and not because of bad decisions or wasteful spending. The cost of attending even a public college has soared, 25 percent in the last four years alone. The amount of debt carried by the average college graduate is at a record high.
The consequences have rippled throughout the entire economy. With enormous debt and few prospects for employment, more and more young people are turning to their parents for help. Over half of parents financially support their adult children. As a result, their nest eggs and retirement funds are melting away.
It is particularly poignant that the worst of the Obama economy has fallen squarely upon the shoulders of the young men and women who rallied to him so enthusiastically in 2008. Unfortunately for them and the country at large, the president’s policies have failed. He has repeatedly increased government spending in an attempt to solve our nation’s problems. That strategy has made the challenges we face much worse than most people realize.
The short-term challenges of unemployment and personal debt pale compared to the threat to the millennial generation that looms on the horizon.
Both parties recognize the fundamental danger the country’s debt poses to our nation’s future, but President Obama’s policies have not reflected that reality. By the end of his first term, his administration will have nearly doubled our public debt.
What does that debt mean for the millennial generation? Under the president’s budget, by 2080, the per person value of interest payments alone on the national debt will have reached $13,000. But that number is insignificant when compared to each person’s share of the national debt — nearly $300,000.
It is no wonder that most young people no longer believe that programs like Social Security and Medicare will be around when they retire.
If Mitt Romney is elected, he will cut and cap spending, and balance the federal budget. He will finally reform Medicare and Social Security in a way that ensures they are solvent for this generation and generations to come. He will get our economy growing so that it once again creates jobs for all who seek them. In short, he will put our country back on a path where the future is brighter than the present.
If President Obama is re-elected, he will continue to spend more money than we take in and to expand a debt that’s already on the verge of being unsalvageable. That’s a future that should frighten every American, no matter what their generation.
Kim Reynolds is lieutenant governor of Iowa. Comments: (515) 281-5211