The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Recap: "Deficit Hawks vs. Civil Debtors" Politics and Policies of Our National Debt with Charlie Wheelan '88

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Last week, the Rockefeller Center co-sponsored a panel on the national debt. This event was organized by a 2013 First-Year Fellow and also co-sponsored by The Concord Coalition, Campaign to Fix the Debt, The Josiah Bartlett Center, and Millenial Action Coalition.

Moderator Charlie Wheelan '88 addresses the audience

Last Thursday, the Rockefeller Center hosted a a spirited conversation on the programs and policies driving our national debt. The Rockefeller Center's Professor Charles Wheelan '88 moderated the discussion on our fiscal future, which delved into the divisive politics preventing meaningful reform. Facilitated by several national politicians and activists to talk about our nation’s current debt situation and taking place in Paganucci Lounge at the Class of 1953 Commons, panelists included US Ambassador and Congressman Dick Swett, Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert L. Bixby, and Josiah Bartlett Center President Charlie Arlinghaus. Several dozen Dartmouth students attended the event, which began with position-establishing five-minute speaker statements before professor, economist, and founder of The Centrist Party Charles Wheelan moderated a question-and-answer session.

The event provoked lively and diverse commentary from those on all sides of the debt issue, with students and presenters actively engaging each other’s positions and arguments. In particular, participants argued about the key drivers and determinants of our nation’s debt, underscoring the complexity of debt-related politics. Attendees and presenters debated the implications of running a national debt as well as the possibility of debt's adverse impact outweighs the benefits of debt-inducing policies. Participants delved into current economic issues while also broaching historical economic and political decisions and situations relevant to understanding our nation’s debt. The evocative discussion further contributed to the community-wide debate over our nation’s economic situation and the proper steps to take moving forward.

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