As one of the younger members of Congress, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) perhaps better understands the plight of America’s youth than many of his coworkers. And according to Ryan, unless drastic action is taken, the outlook isn’t good.
“The greatest disfunction of all is the fact that these young people standing here are facing a diminished future, no matter how you slice it,” the 43-year-old said during a press conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. “This isn’t a Republican issue. It’s not a Democrat issue. It’s a math issue.”
Prior to the press conference, Ryan participated in a 45-minute, off the record “Millennial Meetup” roundtable with about 25 young leaders from across the country, including representatives of The Can Kicks Back. Fellow Representatives Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) also participated. The group talked about the impact of the debt crisis on future generations and the need for action.
“I think it’s unfair of us now to ask that once [young people] become — once they have families, once they’re out in the workplace, that we ask them to bear the national debt because of our out-of-control spending,” 35-year-old Kinzinger said.
Schock, 31, joked that it was one of the first times he and Kinzinger had shown up to a meeting in Washington and felt old.
The “Millennial Meetup” was part of a push for the GOP to make itself more relatable to young Americans, according to BuzzFeed. The issue is not that Republican positions — such as cutting spending to reduce the national debt — are distasteful to young people, but simply that the Party has to do a better job marketing itself to youth.
“When you look at what Gov. Romney spent versus Obama on new media during the election, it’s like a skyscraper next to a tiki hut,” Schock told BuzzFeed. “We don’t have to change who we are, but we have to make our positions relevant to the people to whom we’re trying to communicate.”
Face-to-face dialogue between members of Congress and youth won’t solve all of the problems facing the next generation, but it is important for the GOP to show young Americans that it’s committed to helping them protect their futures.