News
“Up to Us” Movement Raises Awareness about National Debt
Old Gold & Black
By
Contributing Writer
Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Peter G. Peterson Foundation, along with Net Impact and the Clinton Global Initiative University, have sponsored the “Up to Us” college competition at Wake Forest this semester. “Up to Us” is a rapidly growing, nonpartisan movement of young people who are passionate about raising awareness of the national debt.

Since its inception in 2011, “Up to Us” has engaged nearly 150,000 people through over 400 college teams.

This semester, teams from over 60 universities nationwide will be hosting events to educate young people on the economic impacts that the national debt brings. In the past, teams have hosted trivia nights, documentary screenings and debates to raise awareness on the issue.

This semester, the Wake Forest “Up to Us” team will be competing to collect signatures to ask representatives to be more fiscally responsible and to consider the economic consequences of the debt. Each team has a chance to receive cash prizes, meet with key policy leaders, travel to Washington D.C. and attend other top-tier national conferences.

On the weekend of Feb. 10, the Wake Forest “Up to Us” team attended the Up to Us conference in Oakland, CA. Over 50 team leaders from across the country came to the conference to discuss the national debt and their plans for the competition. The weekend included speeches from recent “Up to Us” alumni, including George Batah, who made headlines in 2015 when he wrote a petition to increase the number of Syrian refugees allowed in the U.S. The petition garnered over 300,000 signatures and enacted policy change. Batah spoke on how “Up to Us” gave him critical leadership and team management skills that has granted him success in his career at Deloitte.

The conference gave attendees the opportunity to discuss issues with a diverse range of perspectives. Teams hailed from Fordham University, the University of Notre Dame, University of California Irvine and more. 

“Understanding the big picture of the long-term national debt and its influence on our everyday lives as not just students, but also Americans, is what I believe to be the starting point for millennials to have better personal finance,” sophomore Shawna Tuli said. “In the realm of politics and changing government, financial literacy is a necessity every person should be equipped with.”

“Up to Us” is the only nationwide campus-based campaign focused on the national debt. “Up to Us” is committed to a nonpartisan approach to ensure that students from any political background can get involved. The competition stresses a factual, unbiased approach that looks to unite young people under a common goal. Lowering the debt economically means increasing taxes, lowering government spending or both. “Up to Us” believes that the only way to solve the issue is to generate enough awareness so voters elect officials who will tackle the debt.

“Up to Us” specifically targets young people. The debt is currently $20.6 trillion and growing every day. If current policies continue, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that the debt will reduce family incomes by $16,000 by 2047.

Robert Whaples, a professor in the Department of Economics, commented on the debt.

“It should concern everyone, but particularly younger people, because a high debt makes higher future taxes or lower government spending inevitable — especially when interest rates climb from their current low level and payments on the debt balloon,” Whaples said. “If the rising debt-to-GDP level isn’t reversed and political gridlock on the topic persists, the U.S. government could eventually face bankruptcy, so this issue is extremely serious.”

On Feb. 13, National Intelligence Director Daniel Coats also stated that the national debt “represents a dire threat to our economic and national security.”

  • Tom Daly

    The Republicans are Bankrupting the country.

    You’ve heard the scary statistics about government spending. You have heard it from the Congressional Budget office or Congressional Research Service or you’ve heard it from House Speaker Paul Ryan or Office of Management and
    Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.

    There are no shortage of professionals sounding the alarm, including the conservative Heritage Foundation. The Republican Congress and Trump are bankrupting the country and robbing future generations of Americans. It’s dangerous. A debt crisis, and all the terrible economic effects of that, are looming.

    How did this happen? It follows a familiar script.

    Republican Reagan gave us the largest tax cuts in history (by % GDP), and tripled the US debt.

    Republicans George W Bush inherited a balanced budget from Democrat Clinton and decided to cut taxes and fight two wars on the US credit card. He handed Obama a trillion dollar deficit and the great recession.

    Trump follows the script and has more tax cuts – guaranteeing never before seen deficits and thus increasing the debt “bigly”.

    Who has this helped? Since Reagan in 1981 the income of the top 1%
    and 10% has exploded while the median family income in the US has hardly keptup with inflation. Meanwhile the wealth of the Forbes 400 has almost tripled in inflation adjusted dollars. The profits and capitalization of the
    Fortune 500 have never been so high. The economy has finally fully recovered from the Bush/Cheney great recession, and unemployment at the end of the Obama administration was 4.7%. Why tax cuts now, and stimulate the economy? What conservative economic philosophy is this? Not Freedman, not Hayek, not Smith. It is not even Keynes.

    The US military already outspends Russia and China combine more than 2 times over, with the next ten countries allies of the US. Unlike the other
    departments of government, the Pentagon has not been able to conduct an audit of its spending for two decades. The Pentagon cannot say where they are spending hundreds of billions of dollars. Recently the Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative
    waste. Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results

    What is the goal of the Republican congress? Will the Ryan and the
    Republicans now demand cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and
    others to “balance” the budget” they threw even more out of balance? In what world is this rational? At what point will American capitalism
    and democracy collapse? I feel sorry for anyone now in school.

    The Republicans would not support a stimulus in 2008-10 when the economy was in the Bush-Cheney great recession and unemployment was near 10%. Now with unemployment below 5% the Republicans have passed two bills that stimulate the economy, a tax bill with will a built in deficit of well over a trillion dollars and a budget that will drive the debit up another trillion plus dollars. It would be interesting if additional Business
    faculty would comment on this from their perspective.