National Issues Forum: A Nation in Debt, How Can We Pay the Bills?

Nation in DebtIn collaboration with the Kettering Institute, WIPPS is sponsoring a series of National Issues Forum style deliberations on our nation’s (current) $14 trillion national debt. Wisconsin citizens are invited to these public discussions on one of our most pressing contemporary issues, and are encouraged to let their voices be heard on questions such as: What sacrifices are we willing to make to solve this debt? What programs should we, and can we, afford to keep? How do we cut the deficit without sacrificing growth? The kick-off event was held Wednesday, September 28 in the Terrace Room at the University of Wisconsin – Marathon County from 6 – 8 pm.

With 20 participants attending the first in this series of deliberations, co-moderators John Greenwood and Ian Reese delineated three approaches to open the discussion. Approach One proposed to solve the debt crisis by raising taxes and cutting spending. Approach Two advocated making systemic changes within the government to increase large-scale fiscal responsibility, and Approach Three advocated the encouragement of economic growth by investing in research, development, infrastructure and science education.

Although NIF deliberations are not tied to arriving at “common ground” among participants, discussants at the UWMC forum agreed that the national debt problem is complex and demands more citizen voice to address its many components. In this fashion, legislators can learn what their constituents are willing to sacrifice in order to solve the debt problem. The solution must be found across all levels – personal, local, regional, state, national and global. For their part, legislators must agree to practice civility and prioritize the development of a comprehensive and equitable budget plan that calls for concessions from all segments of society while taking into account the limitations of the poorest sectors of our nation.

Results from this and other events in the series will be shared with state and national policy makers. All members of the public are encouraged to attend upcoming events in this series, and all perspectives are welcome. Check the Upcoming Events location on our website homepage for other locations of upcoming National Debt deliberations throughout the state.

For more information, contact Connie Nikolai (715-261-6368 or