Four years ago, younger voters were a key part of President Obama’s winning coalition. He didn’t promise them much – just ‘hope and change.’ But they probably thought they’d have something to show after 4 years in office. Instead most young people are deeper in debt, and they have little hope of finding a real job anytime soon. As Paul Ryan said, they’ve got nothing to show but faded posters.
INCREASED FEDERAL DEBT:
What’s changed since 2008? First off, all Americans have a much greater share of the national debt. In 2008, the average American’s share of the national debt was about $35,000. Under President Obama’s ‘leadership,’ that number has increased by a staggering 50 percent – to over $51,000 per person. America’s young people – who have decades of work ahead of them – will pay the bulk of that, as will our children and grandchildren.
What has Barack Obama done to keep that debtload from rising? He promised to go through the budget ‘line by line’ to reduce waste. He promised a net reduction in federal spending. He promised to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. He hasn’t delivered on any of these promises. He hasn’t even submitted a serious budget plan to Congress. The House and Senate both rejected his most recent budget on unanimous votes. Not even Nancy Pelosy and Harry Reid were willing to stand with Obama and his $5 trillion in new debt.
INCREASED PERSONAL DEBT:
It’s not just government debt that’s piling up. Young people are carrying a greater personal debt burden than ever before, too. Student loan debt for example, has now climbed above $1 trillion. Barely half of all borrowers were making payments at the end of 2011. Credit card debt is up as well, and it’s harder to pay off. Researchers with Ohio State University recently reported that those between 18 and 30 are taking on more debt, and paying it off more slowly than previous generations. Many young adults are projected to never pay off their debt, and instead to die in bankruptcy.
HIGHER HEALTH CARE COSTS:
The President constantly reminds young voters that Obamacare makes it easier for them to get by while unemployed – by staying on their parents’ insurance plans through age 26. But he doesn’t tell them that that provision has already increased the average cost of health insurance – for all Americans – by between $150 and $450. He also doesn’t tell them that young people who buy their own health insurance will see costs increase between 19 and 30 percent as a result of Obamacare.
The most disappointing piece of the picture for young people is the terrible job market into which they are graduating. According to a recent survey, just half of all those who graduated between 2006 and 2011 are working full time. The liberal Progressive Policy Institute reports that “the strongest growth in employment for college grads aged 21-29 since the end of the recession has been in jobs like dental assistants, bus drivers, hairstylists, and event ticket takers.” There’s nothing wrong with such work, but do you need a college degree to become a hairstylist? And more importantly, is it the sort of job that enables you to pay student loans? This helps explain why just 20 percent of recent grads believe that their job is the beginning of a career. Census Bureau data shows that real wages for recent college grads are collapsing. It’s no wonder the number of 26 year olds living with their parents is up by almost 46 percent since 2007.
This is an incredibly depressing picture. The army of young volunteers who were critical to Obama’s 2008 victory have not only not seen their lives get better, they have gotten worse by almost any measure. After 4 years of Barack Obama, they are deeper in debt, they have little job opportunity, they are forced to delay the start of their careers, and they are more stressed than ever about their circumstances. What does the Obama team offer? More of the same – and if it cheers you up, remember that those without college degrees are doing even worse than those who have them.
Young people are having a harder and harder time finding work. They are working for less. Their debt burden is growing. And this President has done nothing for them. In 2012, those young voters have a choice. They can stay the course, or they can select new leadership. It’s time for young people to ask what they have to show for the last 4 years – what President Obama has done to make their lives better. The answer is clear - and so is the choice.