NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Have Millennials Been Robbed of Their Birthright?

May 19, 2015

Burdened with an obligation to pay government debt they did not incur, young Americans - those born between the early 1980s and the beginning of the 21st century, or millennials - begin life at least partially robbed of their birthright.

This is the first generation of young Americans that our government systemically disfavors and the first generation whose prospects are lower than those of their parents.

Increasingly devastating fiscal conditions are being handed to our America's youth. Every Social Security and Medicare Trustees Report and every Budget Outlook from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office shows fiscal deficits far into the future. These deficits drive the national debt even higher and someday the bill will come due. Only substantial tax increases or spending cuts will solve the problem - and judging by the current political climate, these aren't coming any time soon.

Because of automatic entitlement spending, Congress is unable to balance the budget without taking direct action to rein in the growth of these programs. 

Consider what millennials are facing:

  • Spending in 2009 was $3.5 trillion and revenue was $2.1 trillion, leaving a deficit of $1.4 trillion.
  • Seven years from now, the deficit is expected to surpass $1 trillion again and continue rising after that.
  • This will leave debt held by the public at more than 79 percent of GDP in 2024, compared with about 73 percent now.
  • The Affordable Care Act has also raised health insurance premiums for young Americans and lowered them for middle-aged and older people. Young, healthy Americans are, in effect, required to pay for the health care of older Americans.

America's problems have solutions. We need a joint effort from the young and old to force politicians to discuss the issues and begin implementing solutions.

Source: Diana Furgchtgott-Roth and Jared Meyer, "How Government Debt Disinherited the Next Generation…and How To Fix It," Economics 21, May 12, 2015. 

 

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