Students should broaden focus on politics

Hundreds of thousands of teenagers rallied Saturday across the United States, seeking action against gun violence.

Good. The students’ new interest in politics couldn’t have come too soon. In fact, it may be too late.

Now that they are organizing to ensure their future, the leaders — and voters and taxpayers — of tomorrow next should turn their attention to a more universal threat: the federal government’s finances.

Members of the student body who are working already are seeing 12.4 percent of their earnings being sent to the federal government. Ostensibly, it’s to supplement their income in retirement.

They never will see it.

There’s something else for the teens to focus on. Around the time the seniors were born, the federal government took in $2.23 trillion in revenue and spent $2.23 trillion — leaving a surplus of $128 billion. The national debt stood at $5.6 trillion, roughly a third of the nation’s $10.6 trillion gross domestic product.

Now, federal spending is creeping toward that debt level from 17 years ago.

In 2017, the federal government spent $4.14 trillion — adding $666 billion to the national debt. As the year ended, that debt topped $20 trillion, exceeding the GDP. Just last week, restraints placed on the growth of that debt during a budget impasse back when the students were in grade school were kicked aside.

So, in between rallies, study hard, kids. The baby boomers who had protests of their own some 50 years ago are counting on you to fund their Social Security checks and Medicare coverage. Maybe the youths can elect leaders who will make the tough decisions needed to fix the federal government’s finances.

But don’t bank on it.

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