By Lauren Ehrler and Noelle Smith
The current United States national debt is nearly $15 trillion and growing. Organizations like the Concord Coalition seek to educate the public about the causes and consequences of federal budget deficits.
The Concord Coalition brought their program to Drake University, students and community members assembled “super committees” to discuss the nation’s current unsustainable debt.
Executive Director Robert Bixby flew in from Washington to observe. He hopes people will realize the size of he budget problem, and what the realistic options are.
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In the 70-minute exercise, groups were challenged to educate, negotiate, and persuade others on policy issues. But when a vote was called, majority ruled.
Groups worked through 37 policy options, calculating dollars and tallying votes. Many found the answer to be in a balance between revenues and expenditures.
As individuals considered their personal priorities, and even party affiliation, groups found discussion and time constraints tough.
George Ensley said his table spent too much time debating policy options at the beginning, and had to rush to finish.
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The exercise challenged everyone to consider their own personal priorities and negotiate with team members. Some teams struggled to compromise while others were able to sucessfully reduce the deficit. In the end, citizens realized how difficult making cuts can be.
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Organizers hope the exercise will encourage and inspire participants to become citizen activists.The Concord Coallition was founded in 1992 and is a non-partisan, non-profit agency that advocates federal fiscal responsibility. It facilitates multiple programs like this every month across the nation.