April 18, 2014

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Friday, December 19, 2008 - 5:34 PM

Many of you have heard about the documentary movie I.O.U.S.A. For this blog post, I would like to borrow just the first three letters of this catchy title as I thank the wonderful Concord Coalition volunteers of the Midwest: I.O.U.

Since I began working as the Midwest Regional Director for the Concord Coalition in July 2008, I have continuously been impressed with the vigor and enthusiasm demonstrated by citizens and professionals of the great Midwest who volunteer for The Concord Coalition and those who offer their support of our initiatives in their community, state, and across the nation. To each of you: I.O.U.!  I owe you many thanks and want to publicly recognize your contributions to Concord and to my work for Concord in the field.

Let me provide Tabulation blog readers a few examples of the outpouring of participation and interest I’ve received in my Midwest region to illustrate why I.O.U.:

  • An Illinois professional has decided to give his time, expertise, and money to The Concord Coalition in 2009. In his own words:  “I am increasingly alarmed by the growing unrecognized governmental indebtedness at all levels, and believe it is now my time to try to devote some serious...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008 - 1:20 PM

A few weeks back we had our annual Economic Patriot Award Dinner, and among the short list of speakers (which included award recipient New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg) was Yoni Gruskin, Executive Director of the youth advocacy group, Concerned Youth of America (CYA). A sophomore from The University of Pennsylvania, he gave an inspired and inspiring address that spoke to the timelessness of partiotism and an honest sense of American stewardship shared across generations. 

Whether its a new face, or the true face, Yoni put a good face on the idea of "youth outreach." Where many once read the term to mean an empowered generation of elders shaking up the silent and disaffected youth, this dynamic leader, not long out of highschool, redefined it as the youth reaching out to their seniors as if to say, "We're here, we've been listening, and we mean serious business." The enthusiasm and profesionalism of Yoni, his colleagues at CYA, and his peers at other youth organizations rising up around the country, all give us at Concord great comfort as the generation with the most at stake takes matters into their own hands. 

Check out a clip of his speech below.

--Stefan Byrd-Kreuger

... Read More
Wednesday, November 12, 2008 - 4:33 PM

One of my tasks here at Concord as the Youth Outreach Director is to help design our website. Because of this, I am always looking for new ways to present our message and I pay close attention when Concord's message appears in the many different media publications our staff has the fortune of being featured and interviewed in. Readers can normally keep up-to-date on these appearances at our "Concord in the News" page for traditional print articles or by clicking on the "Video and Audio" section of that page for multimedia.

I got quite excited recently because something came along that didn't fit neatly into these categories. Concord Coalition Policy Director Josh Gordon was interviewed about the scale and the nature of our nation's fiscal challenge, as well as how we can go about addressing it, by an organization called FLYP Media. They have a new bi-weekly publication that is part magazine, part TV show, and part in-depth and content rich website for a well-designed and well-integrated, truly multi-media experience.

I think that experimenting with such innovation in getting information to the American public is a...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008 - 2:24 PM

Even though my job as Policy Director means I spend a fair amount of time sitting at my desk and staring at my computer, I also get to play "in the field" giving chart talks or running budget exercises. Earlier this month, I conducted a "Principles and Priorities" exercise at American University, and had a a wonderful "teaching moment" where I was able to link the hypothetical budget simulation to perhaps the primary fiscal policy debate that will surround President-Elect Obama as his administration sets their priorities.

In the exercise, students divide into groups and act like special congressional committees designated with making budget choices. They pick choices in four areas: domestic discretionary spending, defense and national security spending, taxes and revenues, and entitlements. Groups can either cut programs or increase taxes to reduce the deficit, or spend more on programs they consider important, or cut taxes to increase the deficit. At the beginning of the exercise they are supposed to develop a target goal for the deficit and by the end they add up their choices to see how they did. Because we are an organization that stresses fiscal responsibility, the students tend to think the more they can do to lower the...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 - 12:47 PM

On Thursday, October 23rd, I spent the day at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado (elevation 6,872 feet). The college is located about 25 miles north of the New Mexico and Colorado border and it is really one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

My day was packed! I had an 8:00 a.m. presentation, a radio interview on KDUR, lunch and dinner discussions with students (who were all exceptionally bright), an afternoon presentation, and finally a screening of I.O.U.S.A.. My guides at the "Fort" were Professors Jennifer Stollman and John Gadbois.

The theme for the day was fiscal literacy. Both Professors Stollman and Gadbois are concerned that students are not being exposed to the implications of the long-term challenges our nation faces and that younger people are not being given the skills to be literate about fiscal issues. The professors had already traveled to Washington, D.C. for a presentation by Concord Chief Economist Diane Lim Rogersand the Heritage Foundation's Stuart Butler, and have been encouraged to focus on fiscal education by Acting President and Provostfor Fort Lewis College, Steve Roderick. I was thrilled that Provost Roderick joined us at most of the day's events.

During my morning presentation, I discussed the basics of the federal budget, the long-term challenges...

Sunday, October 26, 2008 - 8:20 PM

Greetings from Atlanta! On Thursday (October 23) Executive Director Bob Bixby came to Georgia for a screening of I.O.U.S.A. on the campus of Emory University and a media interview with the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Many senior faculty and staff attended along with a great crowd of concerned students. Dr. Kenneth Thorpe was on hand and complimented the educational work of Concord and the movie. Dr. Thorpe is a well-known expert on health care policy and has gone back and forth working in academia and the federal government for years in several high-ranking positions.

For those of you who have seen the movie, you know the old soft drink Tab plays a bit role. So Bob, along with his beloved can of Tab, took questions from the audience (you can only imagine how many times we've heard jokes about "picking up the Tab" in relation to the national debt.. I've been as guilty as anyone). Since Atlanta is the home of Coca Cola (the creator of Tab), we have a surplus of the diet drink here!

Questions ranged from the serious and thoughtful to downright funny. One student asked if he and others who had foreign language skills should just uproot and move to another country!  Bob responded that we needed him to stay here because otherwise it would be one less...

Friday, October 24, 2008 - 2:08 PM

One way the Concord Coalition has attempted to highlight the importance of fiscal responsibility and the choices involved in being fiscally responsible is by establishing a series of educational exercises. These exercises allow citizens at the grassroots level, whether as part of town hall meetings with their members of Congress or as students in the classroom, to learn in a group setting that takes advantage of the interactions with people of different generations or different ideological or political backgrounds.

We rely on an experienced network of field staff around the country who lead these exercises in person and help teachers learn how to facilitate the exercises themselves.

The most popular exercise from this collection is "Principles and Priorities" which is designed to help high school, college, and graduate students learn about the competing pressures facing members of Congress in budgeting over the next 10 years. The students gain exposure to current policy options that Congress often debates, while getting a sense of the political and time pressures that arise legislative sessions.

A new exercise called "...