By Nate Tenopir, Editor-in-Chief
Disagreement is an understatement. How else do I characterize my thoughts on a second Obama term than deeply, deeply troubled?
The president only intensified my election night fears with his comments on social justice during the inauguration. It sounded like those ideas have to be fulfilled regardless of the cost to you, me and the nation at large.
It was, in essence, a prayer, a hymn to the power of government. Preserving our freedoms required “collective action”, and individualism was no better than trying to fight fascism with “muskets and militias”.
It began a month-long introduction to how every problem can be solved with a government solution. It started with green technology, improved infrastructure, and education on Jan. 21, and ended with climate change, the minimum wage and redesigning America’s high schools on Feb. 12.
Then, of course, there was the empty, ridiculous promise of reducing our deficit. How in the world can we believe a man who says he intends to reduce the deficit when he failed to attempt it even once during his first four years?
Ronald Reagan’s assessment of Democrats 30 years ago still holds true for Obama today. Obama spends money like a drunken sailor, though that would be unfair to drunken sailors because they spend their own money.
Originally, the president promised to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term in office. Well, it’s been over four years now, and Obama has produced a budget that spent in excess of $1 trillion every single year.
I don’t know what the Vegas odds are for Obama cutting the deficit anytime in his second term, but I’m betting they’re somewhere near the UNO football team making the BCS next year. Obama’s first term is the only time the U.S. has produced a budget above $1 trillion in the history of America.
The Senate, controlled by Democrats since Obama has been in office, has failed to pass a single budget. The House of Representatives, by comparison, has been in republican control since 2010 and passed a budget and several bills that would help to reduce the deficit.
It doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar in economics to understand what the Government Accountability Office told us prior to the inauguration – that our current path is unsustainable. It’s simple common sense.
If you had the opportunity to listen to Senator Marco Rubio in the GOP’s response to the state of the union address, you understand the GOP’s frustration with trying to work with the president.
Republicans always get attacked for motives, not ideas. They are as much the party of “pull yourself up by the bootstraps and get to work” as Democrats are the party of Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot.
As Senator Rubio so perfectly described it, I don’t want dirty air or water, senior citizens fighting for financial survival or finding another way for multi-millionaires to get a break and buy another home or another private jet.
I want to succeed, and I suspect the rest of you do as well. We all came to college to chase our dreams and achieve our goals.
We’d much rather be successful and pay into the system for necessary needs than we would accept a handout. But the key to that survival is not in reckless spending. Nor is it in leveraging our future on robbing Peter to pay Paul.
In the midst of a national emergency, it is UNO students who are suffering. In January, Generation Opportunity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, reported the national unemployment rate for Millennials (Americans aged 18 to 29) was 13.1 percent – over five percent higher than the national average of 7.9 percent.
The youth unemployment rate for Millennial African-Americans is 22.1 percent, Hispanics 13.0 percent and females 11.6 percent. Additionally, the declining labor participation rate (those who’ve stopped looking for jobs) among our age group has created an additional 1.7 million young adults who are no longer counted as unemployed.
If that number was added in, the actual unemployment rate of most of the age group that attends UNO would be 16.2 percent. Add to that the report from the Government Accountability Office on Dec. 3, and you can begin to understand my concern.
According to the GAO, our current course will cause a “fundamental gap between spending and revenue” as the American population ages. It’s a reality we can’t get away from.
Baby boomers, and what they cost to America in terms of Social Security and Medicare, will continue to rise for the next 15 to 20 years.
Obama has said we’ve promised our help and support to these people, and that’s correct. We should never shy away from our responsibilities to the greatest generation.
But by getting out the national checkbook every day for everything else while he’s in the oval office, the president is also saying we owe a promise and support to climate control, gun control, health care, immigration, welfare, Medicaid, Medicare, public housing, education, food assistance, the minimum wage, infrastructure, contraceptives, etc.
No doubt all of these require attention. But throwing more and more money at the problem is not the answer. Just ask the millions of schoolchildren who fail to make the grade in math, science or reading.
Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, ranks American education 17th in the world, average, behind such nations as Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and Germany. Additionally, those four nations, all of which rank ahead of the U.S. in education, spend a little over $474 billion combined on their schoolchildren.
America spends over $800 billion to produce students who are only considered average in terms of education. In addition, the combined population of those four countries is over 321 million. The population of the United States is just over 313 million. Thus, you can’t argue differences on the basis people.
I could cite more examples of how the government wastes more money with no results, but I’ll save that for another column.
Continuing on a path of unchecked spending is a crime not just against the living but the dead. The men who came before us fought and died and gave what Abraham Lincoln called the “last full measure of devotion.”
They died for the idea of America. Chief among that idea is the belief that my children and my children’s children will always have it better than I did.
Now we stand at a great crossroads where we have to decide if we are willing to fulfill that idea. I don’t want to have to struggle to make ends meet when my years have long passed the age when I can earn an income.
The scale of spending doesn’t matter. Mr. President, put the checkbook away. If I can’t spend money when there are no funds in my account, neither can you.