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Display to present U.S. national debt issue

Published: Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 12:03

    In response to concerns with national debt, the Young Americans for Liberty will put a 40-foot-long display of the approximate amount of national debt on the TSC Patio in hopes that students will realize the severity of the number, which is climbing steadily toward $15 trillion.

    The setup will be viewable on Thursday, March 31 and Friday, April 1. Students from YAL will be outside offering further information on national debt to passersby.

    "We hope that the students, first of all, just understand the scope of national debt and realize that the most simple way to put it is the federal government has just grown so large it meddles in people's everyday lives on so many levels where it wasn't originally intended to," said David Nilson, USU's YAL chapter president. "The government has gotten way too big, and way too intrusive."

    YAL is a national organization and 75 universities that support this organization throughout the country will participate in the creation of campus debt clocks to help students understand the true issue U.S. spending is, Nilson said.

    The College Republicans are also in support of this attempt to create awareness, said chairman Terry Camp, who said Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Mike Lee recently proposed a balanced budget amendment be implemented to check federal spending. Camp said he believes Utah politicians are going in the right direction to improve the current debt increase.

    "The balanced budget amendment would make it so the federal government had to balance its books so it wouldn't spend more than it was bringing in in revenue," Camp said. "This budget would cap the GDP spending at 18 percent. Now we are spending at about 25 percent. If we continue increasing this we are never going to pay off the debt."

    Angela Sherwood, YAL member, said the federal government is essentially creating money it does not have, which leaves a large burden on current young people. Government is using tax payers' dollars or money that does not exist to fix the problem, she said. Sherwood said she does not believe students understand this is happening or consider the consequences this may have on their futures.

    "People will walk by (the patio debt clock) and think ‘Oh that's our debt; that's a big number,' and keep walking," Sherwood said. "I hope they realize what trillions of dollars really is. We need to realize what the government is doing, what they are spending."

    USU's College Democrat chair Laura Anderson, also agrees students need to become aware of how they can do their part in reducing the national debt. It is important to vote on political officers who will support financially responsible programs, she said. Cutting back on some programs and keeping those that are necessary is one step toward reducing the debt, Anderson said.

    "Mainly, the only way we are going to decrease the debt is look at our tax system, adjust how we can more efficiently be taxing people," Anderson said.

    In essence, every individual in the U.S. owes the government $45,000 to fix the national debt issue, Nilson said. He said one way to improve the nation's financial circumstance is to cut programs that he believes should not necessarily be the federal government's concern.

    "A lot of people really get fired up about getting rid of Social Security and Medicaid or Medicare," Nilson said. "I think those are fine, but I don't think it's the federal government's role to even touch those arenas, so if those arenas are going to exist they need to be voluntary, so it will be used for those who need it."

    Though Camp said he believes the majority of Utah government leaders are fiscally responsible, he believes legislators and Congress at large are setting today's youth up to deal with a heavy burden.

    "Students aren't aware that legislature and congress are mortgaging our futures," he said. "It's almost immoral for politicians to spend more than we're bringing in."

    The main goal for YAL producing a campus national debt clock is to raise awareness of public debt, mainly regarding why it is so large and what the money digging the debt is spent on, Nilson said. He also hopes it will create activism and educate students about what they can do to individually to reduce the national debt.

    "The best thing to do is, of course, elect people who will not support unconstitutional programs," he said.

– catherine.meidell@aggiemail.usu.edu

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