Not every politically-inclined University of Wisconsin student has the opportunity to travel to the nation’s capital and meet with leading U.S. government officials, but that dream became a reality for one undergraduate last week.
UW’s Bipartisan Issues Group President Alex Holland joined more than 30 leaders of the group’s parent organization, The Can Kicks Back, in Washington, D.C. for a day of meetings with lawmakers.
TCKB National Field Director and Co-Founder Nick Troiano said he chose only the most active and articulate leaders to come to D.C., and Holland fit that mold.
“We were really impressed with his efforts on campus to bring both parties together and talk about the issues,” Troiano said.
Holland said he met with various U.S. senators and representatives Wednesday, including Rep. Mark Pocan, D–Madison, and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D–Wis. During a roundtable discussion on strategies for deficit reduction, Holland also sat down with Rep. Paul Ryan, R–Janesville and other GOP leaders in the House.
Only two days before the federal sequester cuts went into effect, members from both political parties were receptive to what TCKB advised on the situation, according to Holland, a sophomore political science and economics major.
“Our future is on the line now, and it’s our responsibility to stand up and make sure our legislatures are looking out for us in the long run,” Holland, a Fox Point native, said.
Holland and his fellow non-partisan, 18 to 32-year-old TCKB cohort of “millennials” held conferences Thursday with the Congressional Budget Office and No Labels, a non-partisan political organization for government progress.
Troiano said he helped launch the organization last November because he saw federal legislators perpetually “kicking the can down the road” and exacerbating the national debt. Troiano added young people like himself identified this problem and realized they needed to “kick back” in a bold, balanced and bipartisan way to reduce the deficit and grow the economy.
He said TCKB now has 100 chapters nationwide and is currently the only non-partisan millennial group in the country.
He added he was proud TCKB brought its point of partisan cooperation and “fiscal sanity” to the nation’s leaders.
The trip to Washington, D.C. to address the government’s looming fiscal issues was a “wonderful experience,” Holland said.
“There were great people who were there,” Holland said. “All really ambitious, bright people on both sides of the aisle who really see America as a way to build a stronger and better community. And we realize that if we’re going to build that stronger and better community, we have to solve the deficit first.”
To solve the nation’s education, immigration reform or health care reform, Holland added the government must first ensure it can pay its bills first. Holland emphasized TCKB promotes a balanced approach of taxation and entitlements to reduce the deficit.
He said his favorite part of the trip was seeing current and future leaders of the nation working together despite age and ideological differences.
“The more we can bring young people who are going to be future leaders of out country together, the better off our country is going to be,” Holland said.