Debt control: is the US under control?

With the college students of 2018 finishing off the school year and starting anew, there was one question that neither side of the political spectrum (or more accurately both sides) could escape over the course of the year: is the US debt under control?

The US House of Representatives is considering a new plan to help reduce the national debt but many colleges have pushed back on the proposal because, some say, it will hurt their financial contributions to the government.

Before it becomes law, however, the $1.5tn (£1.2tn) plan must be approved by the Senate, which could prove quite an uphill battle for Republicans.

If passed, the plan is the “tooth and nail” strategy Senator Lindsey Graham suggested last summer as the only way to balance the federal budget. The measure would propose a two-year-long freeze on both spending and revenue, meaning that the US could spend more than $20bn less in two years than what it would have been had Congress continued as if the last two years never happened.

The proposal, which was unveiled by Republican leaders on Tuesday, would still leave the national debt at “record” levels at $21.2tn by 2027.

Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) The United States government is never out of ideas. We have a long list of policies to balance the budget but …

While Ryan highlighted the need to balance the federal budget, many college students criticised the decision to make such drastic cuts to federal spending.

In a letter sent in late December to the National Republican Congressional Committee, and obtained by the Guardian, the American Association of University Professors called the potential cuts “deeply alarming” and predicted that they “will disrupt higher education for many students and families”.

“By undermining the fundamental principle of balanced budgets,” the letter continued, “these policies send a clear message to citizens that these legislators care more about cutting the deficit than they do about making college accessible for low- and middle-income Americans.”

The NJC, which is comprised of a bipartisan group of 1,500 leaders representing the business and academic communities, lambasted the plans in similar letters sent in January to both Ryan and Schumer, expressing worries about “pervasive and harmful unintended consequences”.

But many American colleges appear to feel that their financial contributions to the US government have already been overlooked this year.

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