Formulating the Agenda for Generational Equity

Posted by Blake Wright on January 23, 2014 at 9:46 PM

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The AGE process

On October 1st of 2013, the United States federal government shut down, and members.  Instead of sitting down to work out their differences, Congress decided to close its doors, to run home, and negotiate over the airwaves and on Twitter. They got a nice vacation, and the only losers were the American people. This has been par for the course.  National parks from Yellowstone to Gettysburg were closed, government agencies were shuddered, and jobs were lost.

Meanwhile, during those same two weeks, a bipartisan group of young leaders on 20 college campuses in 15 different states were addressing these same policy issues.  They didn’t decide to quit or take a time out when the going got tough. They stayed in the room, honored their differences, and hashed out policy solutions to our nations’ challenges. 

Through principled debate and reasoned discourse, college students formulated concrete solutions to our nation’s economic problems – working on problems ranging from the solvency of Social Security to the accessibility of quality, affordable post-secondary education.  For three months, these students were charged with coming to the table with their principled opinions, listening to those with whom they disagreed, and creating policy solutions together.

Each of the 20 Common Sense Action chapters from Georgia to UC Berkeley, Boston University to LSU, developed their own policy proposals that ultimately formed the Agenda for Generational Equity (AGE). What resulted was a Millennial policy agenda created through a partnership between Common Sense Action and the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), a think tank committed to advancing bipartisan policy solutions.

With the Agenda for Generational Equity, Common Sense Action did what Congress has not been able to: we brought together principled partisans from across the country to craft solutions in the name of moving the country forward one step at a time.  The process was iterative, beginning first in the summer with a broad framework of issue areas and objectives, continuing during the fall semester with detailed policy proposals designed to accomplish the framework’s objectives, and culminating in the winter at the AGE Policy Summit with the national agenda, agreed upon by delegates from different chapters.

The CSA delegates came together knowing that Millennials are the stakeholders of the future – current policymakers will be long out of office by the time the full effects of their (non)actions are felt.  Of course, the Millennial are not policy experts with advanced degrees. So we come to the table with the humility that we probably will not dive as deeply into a subject as a 20-year Hill veteran. While we lack the expertise, we bring a new energy.   Common Sense Action chapters are committed to starting and advancing the critical conversations about generational fairness, millennial mobility, and repairing politics.

The Agenda for Generational Equity reflects that; AGE is a new kind of agenda. It is part constitution for CSA and part policy agenda. We have outlined a Millennial policy platform that is legitimately bipartisan and that can be a mobilizing framework. That is, our chapters will begin to mobilize members of their communities to create the political pressure and political space, so that our representatives have the ability to sustain critical social-safety net programs and invest in future generations.