CSA proposes bipartisan agenda

CSA+proposes+bipartisan+agenda

Samantha Praman-Linton

Photo by Matt Mitterhoff ‘16

A group of students at Lafayette aimed at raising awareness of political issues affecting their generation held a talk this week highlighting a bipartisan agenda they hope will grab the attention of lawmakers at the national level.

The group, Common Sense Action, aims to “get millennials more interested and involved in politics,” Juannell Riley ‘15, co-founder of the group, said at an event hosted on Monday, entitled “Taking Action: Addressing the Political Problems Facing Our Generation.”

The event centered around an agenda formed by Common Sense Action chapters around the country that addresses the issues facing the millennial generation, such as high unemployment, student loan debt, and the ending of Medicare and Social Security benefits. The plan, named the Agenda for Generational Equity (AGE), is a bipartisan outline that does not have “centrist policy proposals where everything is right in the middle;” instead, it is a mix of policy proposals that are “on the left and [the] right.”

Riley said AGE is not “a way of trying to take the government hostage,” but is a conglomerate of ideas that can affect the three concepts that the Agenda is centered on. The first concept is the advancement of generational fairness, which was formed on the basis of “the huge debt, driven by entitlement programs,” Riley said. AGE proposes to reform Social Security by ensuring solvency and fairness of the program as a whole. As for Medicare, Riley says it is a “more tricky thing to deal with it because people don’t want elderly people to not have ways to support themselves.” AGE’s proposals can potentially improve the health of the population, while decreasing the costs of the program per capita.

Another pillar of AGE is centered on millennial mobility, focusing on making college more affordable and diversifying the paths to jobs for those who may not attend college. The Agenda “does not look to deal with education in an exceptionally extensive manner” Riley said, but wants to achieve universal access to early childhood education.

The last objective of the Agenda is to repair politics and increase the amount of participation of millennials in civic manners by forming an expectation of national service.

After an introduction of the document by Riley at the start of the event, Professor Government and Law Professor Micheal Feola and Economics Professor Nicole Crain spoke about the strengths and weaknesses of the Agenda.

Feola noted “how substantial the Agenda is and serious it is in its aims and how big the stakes really are.” He said the Agenda “hinged on three questions,” one of them, being how to balance the ideals of a social state with the demands fiscal responsibility. He also said the Agenda centered on how to maintain social opportunities for all citizens and how to “repair politics where parties talk past one another and congress [is] in deadlock” although “in some senses, the Agenda was policy thought of the highest order.”

Feola took issue with some aspects of that “stemmed from the core commitments of the Agenda.” He took note of the focus on generational fairness, but noted that a meaningful dialogue with the advanced age population would be needed to some degree. He also questioned the concept of mobility and challenged the group to consider “broader themes of inequality” among millennials besides education, like nutrition and incarceration.

Professor Crain said the Agenda was a “nice and cooperative outlook” and approved of the groups bipartisan approach. She said intergenerational issues were of importance and that the group “needed to be careful with older people” due to the group’s proposed reforms on Medicare and Social Security.

Shawn Hogan ‘17 said the discussion lacked “environmental policy suggestions,” because she is of “the belief that climate change and the environment will become the world’s biggest problem in the next few decades.” Although she said “the idea of CSA and AGE is definitely necessary in our current political climate,” she said “the points that were discussed seemed to contradict the overarching ‘we should do something about the debt’ issue.”