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Policy: Budgets & Deficits

Washington is saddling future generations with debt, but how do we fix that?

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Beltway Confidential,Federal Budget,Debt Ceiling,Ashe Schow,Budgets and Deficits

Americans know the national debt is growing and will hit future generations, especially millenials. But when Washington shifts focus to every squirrel that runs by (gun control, global warming, abortion, etc.), it becomes harder and harder to make the case for a solution.

Enter bipartisan duo Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Tim Kaine, D-Va. The two unlikely bedfellows introduced the Intergenerational Financial Obligations Reform Act, which would require the government to report the national debt more accurately and its effects on current and future generations, including the tax burden it imposes. (For a much wonkier explanation, click here.)

This may be the most bipartisan effort in Congress at the moment. The Bipartisan Policy Center wants it, writing on its blog that "if Americans don't realize that we are sacrificing the future by emphasizing present consumption, then the efforts of the sponsors of this legislation will help educate our citizens."

The bill got its biggest boost Monday, when 500 (yes, 500) economists — including 12 Nobel Laureates — endorsed the bill.

The Fiscal Times reports that "this unprecedented support from economists across the political spectrum is testimony to the bill's clear logic — and even moreso, to its moral necessity."

The bill, if passed, would force the government to stop pointing to short-term analysis to claim that spending bills are beneficial. The INFORM Act would do two things:

First, it would wake up millenials by informing them of what's coming down the road — namely, much, much higher taxes.

This bill would embarrass Obamacare defenders by pointing out the long-term effects of the law that was passed to supposedly help younger Americans.

Second, the bill would end the dishonest accounting that is so common in politics when selling budgetary items. Political gimmickry would be a thing of the past, or at least much more difficult to employ.

The bill had four co-sponsors in the Senate prior to August recess. Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., introduced the House version the day Congress left for recess, but has two co-sponsors so far. Both versions have bipartisan support.

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