U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., spoke to students at the University of Wisconsin Tuesday night to educate them about the nation’s deficit and to urge their participation on Election Day.
John Lambert, second vice chair of the UW College Republicans, said the organization wanted to bring Johnson to campus because of his concern for large issues facing America, especially ones facing the younger generation. He said he believes Johnson brings a “fresh face” to the political table.
In his speech, Johnson said it is crucial for students to understand the financial situation of the country because what past generations have done to students is “immoral.” He noted as government grows, citizens’ freedoms recede as a pervasive problem with the country.
“Far too many Americans have traded their freedom for a very false sense of economic security,” Johnson said.
President Barack Obama, Johnson said, chose to grow government in his four-year term. He added Obama’s plan to increase taxes on the wealthy will not work. He said in about 24 years, the federal government will consume 35 percent of the nation’s economy.
According to Johnson, the federal government is bankrupt. He said in the last 10 years, the federal government spent $30 trillion; the current gross federal debt is $16 trillion.
Most of the deficit, 75 percent, is attributed to government spending, Johnson said. He also predicted Obama will spend $14.1 trillion and will borrow $5.1 trillion by the end of his potential second term.
He added when full spending is put into place in 2016, the health care law will cost $2.4 trillion.
Lambert said the nation’s debt is projected to double in the next 12 years alone, a statistic he asserted should scare the average American.
The way to reduce spending is to minimize the difference between the government and the size of the economy and stabilize the relationship between government and the gross domestic product, Johnson said.
Johnson said Obama has failed to keep his promise of lowering the unemployment rate. Obama promised it would be at 5.3 percent, but current unemployment is at 7.8 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. He noted including individuals who have dropped out of the labor force would raise the number to 10.7 percent.
The federal government’s involvement in the finance of education has greatly contributed to the increase in cost of college tuition, Johnson said. He said tuition is currently 2.4 times higher than it would be if it went with inflation over the years. He compared current tuition rates to those of the 1960s, when they averaged approximately $1,000.
“I have no idea why we encourage you kids to incur debt for education,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the amount of government funds that go toward aiding women with births out of wedlock is another unintended consequence of government involvement in our lives. He said the percentage of births out of wedlock in the 1960’s was 6.9 percent, a number that has jumped to 41 percent. He added single mothers can often receive up to $51,000 from the government.
Citizens who graduate high school, do not have children out of wedlock and do not get addicted to drugs or alcohol have a 2 percent chance of being in poverty, Johnson said. He said the solution to poverty starts with acknowledging and diagnosing the problem.
“I ask young people a simple question: Are you going to defend your rights, or are you going to willingly trade those rights for a totally unfulfilled promise of financial security”? Johnson said.