New student club hosts lecture on national debt

Photo by John Burke ‘14 | Common Sense Action

Prof. Chambers talks about his views on the national debt.
Prof. Chambers talks about his views on the national debt.

On September 26th, Common Sense Action hosted a panel discussion titled, “Paying the Bills: 17 Trillion Reasons to Care about the National Debt.” The presentation featured four professors at the school, Economics Professors Edward Gamber and Donald Chambers and Government & Law Professors Joel Shelton and John Kincaid, each giving a fifteen-minute presentation on their own perspective on the debt and why young Americans need to be concerned.

“[I] appreciated the different perspectives [the professors] came from,” Dan Pallotta ‘16 said. “Seeing the debt from a fiscal and national standpoint was really informative.”

Gamber’s presentation focused on the implications of the long-term debt on the performance of the macroeconomy. Although he said that the debt to GDP ratio is of importance, Gamber is more concerned with the “unsustainability of the accumulated deficits or the unsustainability of the debt going forward.” He believes that the sooner action is taken, whether that be raising taxes, cutting spending or a mixture of the two, there will be less to do in the future to lessen the debt.

Chambers ended his presentation with a spotlight on a Libertarian approach to the debt crisis and how this might be the most feasible solution when compared to liberal and conservative approaches. Shelton spoke about the politics of the country’s 17 trillion dollar debt and how the debt has grown by almost 11 trillion dollars since 2001. Shelton links the growth in the debt to issues such as the prescription drug benefit added to Medicare, the Afghan and Iraq war, the Bush tax cuts, and TARP.

Kincaid’s presentation focused on the lack of political participation of 18-24 year olds especially when compared to senior citizens, citing voter turnout rates for young people, which typically range below 50 percent. According to Kincaid, spikes in young voter turnout is contingent on events, such as the spikes that occurred in 1992 and 2008 following the emergence of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

Common Sense Action is a new student group on campus aimed at promoting bipartisan solutions to national issues.

“The point of the group is start a conversation about why the issues that are being debated in Washington are not relevant to our generation and don’t contain many of the issues that people our age care about,” Common Sense Action co-founder Henry Sandman ’15 said. “[Common Sense Action] exists to create a message that represents the ideas of our generation regardless of a specific political ideology.”

Sandman believes that there has been “a positive response to the event,” which he believed served to show that the debt is an issue in which people will get involved to fix.

Mark Mulligan ’16 echoes the belief that the debt “will be affecting our countrymen to come.”

“We as a generation have an interest in creating a comprehensive bipartisan solution for our future,” Sandman said.