If students don’t get angry and rise up at the ballot box soon (as in, really soon) they will eventually face the largest tax burden in economic history—and make no mistake it will have a profound effect on everything from affording a house to taking a vacation. Because while students prepare for their own economic future, our Congress is thrusting upon them the greatest debt burden in world history. Our country is flat broke, and Congresses’ failure to make reasonable political decisions today will go down as the greatest injustice ever shoved upon future working families; principally because the price will not be paid by today’s Members of Congress, but by Wyoming students.
Meanwhile we are being lied to. The quoted debt of $23 trillion is an invention, and every congressperson and senator is in on it. Our politicians are cooking the books by using the same shenanigans Jeff Skilling used to deceive the shareholders of Enron. We know this because the Treasury Department is required to issue an annual financial statement, which our senators and congresspeople don’t want us to see. It reveals trillions of dollars of off-the-books obligations they have authorized. If we include these unfunded obligations to Social Security, Medicare, and other retirement programs, the Treasury’s own number is an additional $47 trillion dollars. That’s $400,000 per taxpayer!
This is money that we must eventually come up with, because it will be needed by retirees to heat their homes and buy their prescription drugs. In an unforgivable act of cowardice, our politicians made these commitments with no plan on where the money will come from. Meanwhile, Congress passed a last-minute budget deal, (unread by most as they rushed to catch flights for their December vacation), which adds an additional trillion dollars to the deficit.
Tragically, by making small modifications today the debt bomb can be diffused. But absent Congress finding a spine, the solution will come in the form of unprecedented taxes on the next generation. Or, put more colorfully by Wyoming’s former U.S. Senator Alan Simpson, unless small and reasonable adjustments can be made, the next generation will be “sucking canal water.”
The good news is that students are getting engaged. According to research by Tufts University, in 2018 student voting nationwide doubled to 40%. While historically low student voting patterns have allowed politicians to more or less ignore the next generation without risking consequences, that can easily change in a small state like ours. Wyoming has 32,000 registered college students. With average state-wide primary participation of about 100,000 votes, if Wyoming students so choose, they can call the shots.
As if we needed more evidence for student action at the ballot box, in a June phone call to President Trump Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the president that no politician ever lost office by spending more money. Maybe students need to let Sen. McConnell and his colleagues know, that’s about to change.
Dave Dodson lives in Wyoming and is an entrepreneur and former Republican candidate for U.S. Senate and a professor at Stanford University. Read more from his archive at davedodson.com/news.