Reps. Aaron Schock and Adam Kinzinger, who are not only Illinois’s two youngest members of Congress, but two of the youngest members in the entire House, have collaborated on a POLITICO Op-ed warning of the national debt’s dangers to the Millennial generation.
Millenials are 30 and under, which doesn’t quite include Schock, 31, or Kinzinger, 35. But they’re as close as you’ll find among the political class. Their co-authors are Rep. Jaime Herrera Buetler, R-Wash., who is 34, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., 43.
The debt has increased by $6 trillion under this president — and it is now larger than the entire U.S. economy. When these millennials reach retirement age, the public debt will be 247 percent of gross domestic product, according to the Congressional Budget Office. This trajectory is unacceptable and unsustainable. But it is also the most avoidable crisis in history — if Washington starts getting serious about spending.
Right now, each young person’s share of the national debt is $52,000 — and it will grow to nearly $70,000 per child by 2016. That is enough to put a down payment on a house, pay for a college education or start a new business. It’s not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue; it’s a math issue. Washington is spending money it doesn’t have —$3 for every $2 we take in — and we’re giving the next generation a diminished future because of it. For our millennial generation, the national debt threatens their ability to go to college, find a job and start a family. They deserve smarter spending cuts, pro-growth tax reform and an economy in which they are afforded opportunities, not deprived of them.
In 2008, 66 percent of voters under age 30 went for President Obama. In 2012, it was 60 percent. Since partisan preferences are usually formed during youth, Republicans are in danger of losing the Millennials forever. Young voters are turned off by the Republicans’ opposition to abortion rights and same-sex marriage. As the least white generation in American history, Millenials don’t recognize themselves in the Republican Party, which has remained monolithically white, even as the nation becomes more diverse.
As Schock and Kinzinger demonstrate, the Republicans have more exciting young politicians than the Democrats. Now, they are desperate to find an issue which will help the party connect with young Americans.