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Balancing the budget - A View from future taxpayers

Posted at 2:56 PM on November 18, 2010 by Michael Caputo

This year the federal government will spend roughly $3.4 trillion and collect about $2.2 trillion in revenue. This kind of deficit spending has led to mounting debt. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the federal will reach 62 percent of GDP by the end of this year--the highest percentage since shortly after World War II.

The federal budget deficit dominated the 2010 midterm elections, which saw a leadership change in Congress. Days after the election, a bipartisan commission created by President Barack Obama to figure out ways to improve the federal budget situation issued tough recommendations. The plan by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, calls for a number of tough moves: From big cuts to military spending to reducing cost for entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Other big-think panels have also weighed in, such as the Peterson-Pew Commission on budget reform and the Debt Reduction Task Force

All of these efforts at budget balancing come with language about what a growing deficit will do to future generations. "We face a fundamental choice," the Debt Reduction Task Force wrote in its proposal. "We can close our eyes, keep avoiding the problem, and generate more debt that will threaten our economy, mortgage our children's future, and diminish our leadership around the world."

That future generation is paying attention. There are many classrooms trying to understand the budget problems and learn from them, such as the advanced placement English and government class at John Marshall High School in Rochester.

Those students have used the the U.S. Debt Clock and American Public Media's Budget Hero game to better understand the problems and possible solutions of the federal budget debt.

It seemed fitting to invite the students of John Marshall's class, led by teachers Eric Decker and Darren Thompson, to join us and discuss what these young people learned about the budget and what they've discussed when it comes to this issue.

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