"My hope is that your generation will help restore virtue in our country. All our problems arise from the undermining of core principles from our founding."
- U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D., an early supporter of the Millennial Debt Foundation, in a note to MDF founder Weston Wamp.
For two decades the astounding economic power of the United States has enabled excessive federal borrowing without consequence. In effect, America's brilliant entrepreneurs have covered for shortsighted politicians in Washington.
But a once-in-a-century public health crisis has illuminated a harsh truth of America in the 21st century: today, we are an exceptional country dragged down by an often incompetent and poorly managed federal government.
Since 2001, the United States has frivolously incurred public debt at an unsustainable pace — a habit shared by both major political parties. To be fair, prudence and stewardship don’t sell in our toxic, cable news-driven political climate.
Just as economists were again calling attention to the peril of America’s projected trillion dollar FY2020 deficit in a “peace-time,” the coronavirus rocked the economy, forced the government’s hand and expanded the annual deficit to as much as $5 trillion.
As peer countries of the United States have deployed effective strategies to combat the virus, they have become the envy of the world. This competition among countries is one of the silver linings of this challenging moment in America. In real-time, the competence of the political systems and leaders of nations are being tested and judged.
Interestingly, many of the countries lauded for their response to the virus have gone to great lengths in recent years to run government surpluses as America doubled down on its deficit spending addiction. See South Korea, New Zealand and Germany as examples of countries pursuing a radically different approach to sovereign debt when compared to the United States.
The stalest talking point in American politics is the convenient complaint that the political party in the majority is borrowing against future generations.
Millennials will be the first generation to encounter the consequences of two decades of reckless American fiscal policy. A generational call to stewardship in Washington may be our last hope.
An important step in that process will be the work of the Millennial Debt Commission, a group of 20 millennial business leaders from across the country working on a generational framework for fiscal reform while being advised by a cohort of current and former members of the Congress, leading economists and policy experts.
We urgently need a “long game,” a patriotic commitment to the future, that will modernize entitlement programs for millennials, reform the federal budget process and force the federal government to be transparent about the harm being done to future generations by its excessive borrowing. The role of MDF is to promote that long game, educate millennial business leaders on the importance of stewardship and inspire young elected officials to act with courage in the country's long-term interest. We invite you to be a part that.
Founder, Millennial Debt Foundation