Editor’s Note: The Millennial Voices series is written by and for Millennials to foster nonpartisan discussion. Abby Lavalley is a junior at the University of Richmond. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
The two-year budget deal President Barack Obama recently signed includes a provision to suspend the debt ceiling, or the limit on how much debt the Department of Treasury can issue. The current debt limit is $18.113 trillion.
Essentially, the government is allowed to borrow even more money over the next two years to cover costs we've already incurred through previous spending. This deal has avoided a government shutdown (for now), and some of the other highlights include:
- Suspending the debt limit through March 16, 2017
- Lifting 2011 spending caps by $80 billion through September 2017
- Roughly equal spending increases to military and nonmilitary programs
- Noting the potential to sell 58 million barrels of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve
- Holding off increases in Medicare premiums for beneficiaries
- Implementing harsher fines and penalties for Social Security fraud
- Restructuring of Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements for off-site providers
The proceedings around this deal should give us some hope. In years past, we have witnessed heated debates as Democrats and Republicans push each other to the brink of a shutdown, for example in 2013, until someone wins or concedes.
This year, many media outlets and the President himself have praised the bipartisanship demonstrated by each side making some concessions to the other. Although they may have been relatively small sacrifices compared to the changes needed to manage the debt crisis, the bipartisan spirit of the deal leaves us with hope that future leaders can continue this trend.
As a Millennial who has briefly studied the United States' debt crisis, I have to anxiously sigh for the moment when our government realizes a temporary fix, like this budget deal, is no longer an option.
At a certain point, short term spending increases will not suffice and harsher spending cuts will need to be made. Simply relying on small cuts and solutions like selling oil from the strategic petroleum reserve and closing Social Security loopholes will not create a manageable amount of debt for our generation to handle.
Personally, I hope the government can work together to make some of those harder choices before an economic crisis forces drastic changes.
Abby Lavalley is a junior at the University of Richmond, studying Marketing, Finance, and French. She has been actively involved in raising political awareness in the Millennial generation both on and off campus, and is excited for this opportunity to share her insights on issues ranging from the U.S. debt to women's rights.
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