Archive for the ‘Generation Opportunity’ Category

Theft Makes for Bad “Middle Class Economics”

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

I was quoted in the Daily Signal regarding President Obama’s plan to raid the college savings accounts of middle income earners. The Daily Signal is the Heritage Foundation’s blog. The piece, found here, is below.

President Obama is abandoning his controversial plan to tax the interest on 529 savings accounts, the White House announced Tuesday.

The 529 plans are savings accounts in which parents and families can invest after-tax dollars. If the money is used for specified college costs, they don’t have to pay federal tax on the interest accumulated in these accounts.

The president’s proposal, which faced bipartisan opposition, would have “effectively end[ed]” the plans, according to the New York Times.

“Given it has become such a distraction, we’re not going to ask Congress to pass the 529 provision so that they can instead focus on delivering a larger package of education tax relief that has bipartisan support, as well as the president’s broader package of tax relief for child care and working families,” a White House official told the New York Times.

Earlier on Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said that 529 plans “help middle-class families save for college,” and said that taxing these accounts should not be included in the president’s budget proposal.

Lindsey Burke, the Will Skillman fellow in education policy at The Heritage Foundation, said that the president’s plan would have hurt middle-class families.

“Taxing college savings accounts would have created disincentives for those who save for college in favor of the federal government directing college spending, lending and handouts—through proposals like ‘free’ community college and student loan ‘forgiveness,’” Burke told The Daily Signal.

“It became clear pretty quickly that the proposal to tax college savings accounts in no way benefited middle-income families,” Burke added. “Families who have diligently worked to save for their children’s college education would have been penalized under this proposal. It seems, at least for the moment, that the administration is dropping its quest for this bad policy.”

Corie Whalen Stephens, a spokeswoman for Generation Opportunity, said taxing the interest on 529 plans hurts middle-class students and their families.

“It’s encouraging to see our president respond to the needs of our generation by dropping his ill-conceived idea to tax 529 college savings plans. His misguided proposal, intended to fund his unaffordable government policies, would have fallen squarely on the backs of middle-class students and their families,” said Stephens.

She added that funding a broken system doesn’t help students.

“Finding new ways for the government to finance a failing higher education system isn’t a solution. In fact, these endless subsidies with no reforms attached to them are the problem. To fix this, our leaders must look to policies that foster innovation and competition to lower overall costs—not repackage failed big government policies,” said Stephens.

Will a Divided Government Work for Millennials?

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Originally published at Townhall

As defeated politicians clear out their offices and prepare to trek home permanently, there’s a lot to consider about what the midterm elections meant and how the incoming Congress will behave. Requisite attempts at partisan excuse-making aside, there’s a wide consensus surrounding the fact that the left simply couldn’t motivate its base this year. Notably, Democrats even lost their once-tight grip on the cohort that swept Obama into office: young people. In many key Senate races, Republicans won the youth vote outright. Even where conservatives didn’t capture the full 18-29 demographic, there were significant swings in the GOP’s direction almost universally.

Although Republicans experienced a major victory this election, they ought to recognize that voter rejection of Democrats doesn’t constitute a full-throated embrace of their party—especially as it pertains to young voters. If conservative legislators want to keep and expand upon the support of Millennials that they earned this year, they’ll need to pressure the President into accomplishing goals that will benefit our generation. If, as he claims, Obama is interested in bipartisan compromise and helping those still suffering due to our poor economy, he and the new Republican Congress have their work cut out for them.

Luckily, there are places where the President and Congress can in fact work together. One area that has begun to foster promising across-the-aisle cooperation is criminal justice reform. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rand Paul (R-KY) have put forth a noteworthy piece of legislation called the REDEEM Act. If passed, this law would make it easier for juvenile delinquents to get their lives back on track, with a specific focus on non-violent offenders. Another bipartisan bill co-authored by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) called the Smarter Sentencing Act, would reduce mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenses and give more discretion to judges who believe such harsh penalties may not fit specific, non-violent crimes.

An additional arena of interest to young people is higher education reform. The average Millennial now graduates with over $30,000 in student loan debt. Proposals that beat around the bush by tinkering with interest rates only serve to exacerbate underlying problems with the system. The fundamental issue is the federal government’s death-grip both on student loans and the university accreditation process. Government monopolies in these spaces strangle the kind of freedom necessary to foster innovation and competition. The HERO Act, introduced by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Representative Ron DeSantis (R-FL), is a good first step toward breaking the government control that has led to both stagnation and out-of-control costs in an industry so crucial to the future of our nation.

Happily, there’s already one piece of good news that’s materialized for Millennials since the election. Speaker Boehner has said the House won’t be taking the misnamed “Marketplace Fairness Act” up this year. This is fantastic, because the legislation is actually an Internet sales tax in disguise. Sadly, this disastrous bill that targets Millennial entrepreneurs has won bipartisan support in the past. If you agree that forcing small online retailers to comply with over 10,000 tax codes is a ridiculous, job-killing proposition, make sure to hold your elected officials’ feet to the fire if this awful legislation materializes again.

An area that’s also crucially important to young Americans is healthcare. While it’s unlikely that the President will provide any leeway as it pertains to his signature law, Republicans need to make it clear that they’re fighting for our generation. Obamacare stacks the deck against Millennials in a profound way. It more than doubles costs for a high share of those under thirty. To make matters worse, its employer mandate and endless red tape have contributed to America’s troubling transition to a part-time economy of underemployed young people. It’s clear that Millennials desperately need compromise from the White House in this area. A good place to start looking is the new reforms suggested by health care policy analyst Avik Roy .

Ultimately, one of the biggest takeaways from this election ought to be that young Americans aren’t loyal to any particular party, or even political ideology. Time and again, we have made it clear to politicians that we want results that work for our generation. We’re fed up with Washington’s rampant cronyism and blatant disregard for us. We may have trended Republican this election, but make no mistake, conservative legislators are going to have to earn our trust moving forward. The road to 2016 is long, and the next two years will be a trial run. Our generation is in a position to be part of a major swing vote—and we’re sick of being disappointed.


Disillusioned Millennials Could Make the Difference on Election Day

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Originally published at The Daily Caller

It’s time for politicians who have taken advantage of young Americans to face the facts: We’re pretty much over you. Talk to most twenty-somethings, and you’ll likely hear that whatever enthusiasm we had for President Obama has waned substantially – to the point where a solid majority of us disapprove of his performance. If the data tell us anything, it’s that Millennials are extremely independent-minded and pragmatic. These tendencies only grow stronger as we age.

The latest Millennial attitudes survey from Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP) reinforces this point. IOP’s new data on 18-29 year olds, released this week, contains findings consistent with trends discovered in their last several surveys, and is similar to what a recent Reason/Rupe poll found. Of particular note for those concerned with the midterm elections: Millennials most likely to vote this year support Republicans by a margin of 51 to 47 percent, and 26 percent aren’t committed to either party.

The GOP shouldn’t pop the champagne quite yet, however. Millennials aren’t suddenly partisan Republicans just because we’re not happy with Democrats. Most of us feel alienated by our increasingly hierarchical political system. When asked who is responsible for the nation’s gridlock, 56 percent responded to the latest IOP poll by saying “everyone.” 62 percent of the most likely voters said they would be perfectly content to replace every single member of Congress. This speaks to the data that shows young Americans are skeptical of large institutions generally.

The upcoming election will tell us a lot about the long-term loyalties of Millennials. It’s likely that we will grow further into our independent tendencies, and become the type of voters that politicians must capture to win. This is a sentiment that IOP Director Maggie Williams expressed, saying: “Candidates for office: Ignore Millennial voters at your peril.”

This is important because new data shows that young Americans are moving back toward our traditional, pre-Obama role as crucial swing-voters. That gives our generation a lot of power to assert ourselves.

The information we have on Millennial attitudes consistently demonstrates that there’s a major opening for candidates interested in facilitating a turnaround for free market ideas. It’s also clear that the time for action is now. Young people are willing to give politicians of any party a listen, but only if they prove their worth. Polling has shown that party labels mean less to Millennials than previous generations, with over half of us eschewing partisanship entirely.

Would-be leaders of all stripes have an opportunity to earn our trust by sitting down and actually listening to our concerns. The average graduate leaves college with over $30,000 in student debt. We face a youth unemployment rate of nearly 15 percent. Obamacare, which 57 percent of us oppose, more than doubles health care costs for many of us. Cronyism that favors giant corporations over innovative startups makes it harder for us to improve our lives through entrepreneurship and hard work. We are well aware that this isn’t the hope and change we were promised.

Politicians can earn our votes by supporting equitable policies that don’t foist an undue economic burden on our generation. An 18 year old’s lifetime share of the growing 17 trillion national debt is $800,000. This isn’t fair, it’s hampering our future economic prospects, and we know it. Millennials have come to believe that we can’t trust anyone in politics. As Harvard IOP senior advisory board member Ron Fournier noted, this particular trend has gained traction over time. It’s little wonder why.

Despite this cynicism toward politics, polling fromHarvard, Pew, and Reason has consistently shown that young Americans do care deeply about our country and want to be civically engaged. The fact is that most would prefer to help others outside of the political system – a positive development for those of us who believe government is ineffective as a charitable institution. The latest IOP poll shows that one-third of Millennials would consider volunteering for a political campaign. On the other hand, a full 67 percent of us say that we wouldvolunteer our time to support a charitable cause.

Will the silver lining amid all this data about disillusionment be that Millennials ultimately support those who work limit government’s destructive power over our generation? Given who is currently the most enthusiastic about voting, this could very well be the case. Tuesday will be a good first step toward learning if the trends found in this year’s polling bear out politically. It will then be up to Millennials to continue asserting ourselves as an independent voting bloc unwilling to be taken for granted. Politicians, you’ve been warned.

Government’s Unjust Treatment of Millennials

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

I joined Newsmax TV on behalf of Generation Opportunity to discuss student loans, the government’s generational theft, and some solutions that would lower the cost of higher education.

Young Americans are Losing Faith in Government

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

I joined Newsmax TV on behalf of Generation Opportunity to discuss polling that shows young Americans are losing faith in government.