Combating Child Poverty
Approximately 21% – around 15 million of 47+ million children in the United States – live in households where their income level is below the designated federal poverty threshold. According to UNICEF, 1 in 3 children in the United States live in poverty, among the worst in the developed world.
Poverty can impede children’s ability to learn and contribute to social, emotional, and behavioral problems. Poverty also can contribute to poor health and assist to inconsistent mental development. Research is clear that poverty is the single greatest threat to children’s well-being. But effective public policies – to make work pay for low-income parents and to provide high-quality early care and learning experiences for their children – can make a difference. Investments in the most vulnerable children are also critical.
Raising Financial Capability and Literacy
Youth Caucus of America sees the solution with financial capability and literacy starting in the education system. Fifteen year olds in the United States scored below the average for financial literacy compared to 18 other developed countries. Currently just under half of all college students feel that they have the knowledge to be prepared financially in their lives. This figure is especially troubling considering the amount students that are taking on greater and greater debt.
Students in high school should receive fundamental information on financial literacy and capability so that they may be more prepared when they go out into the real world. The government should make funds available through block grants for all fifty states to implement financial education in high schools. Ultimately the decision to enforce financial education is left to the states, if needed the government should incentivize states to use the funds available for specific financial education.
Promote Innovation (Start-Ups, Entrepreneurship, Investment, Small Businesses, etc.)
Innovation benefits youth in innumerable ways. Beyond demand-side consumption of resulting products and services, innovation is non-negotiable if millennials and the American economy as a whole wish to retain and enhance their supply-side dynamism in a globalized era. On average, 7 million jobs are created and destroyed every quarter. As low-skilled jobs are increasingly replaced by high-skilled jobs, the economic future of the United States increasingly depends upon the ability of millennials to design and implement their entrepreneurial ambitions through established firms and through start-ups.
To liberalize the present legal environment for startups and established firms, taxes and regulatory burdens must be decreased. Lowered corporate income taxes would improve the cash flow of startups and established firms, increasing the survival rate of start-ups and the solvency of established firms. To protect productivity and increase the number of successful startups founded each year, Youth Caucus of America recommends either a responsible across the board deregulation of the American economy or a three-year moratorium on the most costly regulations for start-ups.
Few potential entrepreneurs make the decision to divorce themselves from steady income and take the risk to tie their personal prospects to the viability of an innovative idea. By allowing entrepreneurs to collect welfare benefits until their companies grow large enough to support them, the federal government can vastly reduce the personal risk associated with entrepreneurship. Youth Caucus of America recommends that federal benefits be awarded to entrepreneurs such that the sum of private-sector and public-sector income not exceed $31,200.
Increasing Minimum Wage
The Federal minimum wage is currently stuck below the normal living wage of every state in the Union. Youth Caucus of America supports legislation to raise the minimum wage gradually to $10.10 per hour. In order to raise the minimum wage without an economic downturn, YCA also supports deregulation of small businesses and reform to the EITC or earned income tax credit. By deregulating small businesses, employers will be able to invest the money they saved into the higher cost of labor. By reforming the EITC, the government will be able to use the money it saved to invest into a larger scope of impoverished youth and their families. By increasing the tax brackets that determine whether one receives the tax credit, millions of American youth will have more money in their pockets to support themselves and their families. YCA recognizes that some areas of the country may require a higher minimum wage to meet the higher cost of living. YCA supports the 10th amendment allowing states to create higher minimum wages in regions that require it.
Decreasing Youth Unemployment
Youth unemployment is a structural threat to the entire American economy. The American economy currently owes $1.2T and rising in student loans; student loans are unsecured, rendering them even more potentially dangerous than the mortgages of 2008. Additionally, a year unemployed is not only a year of lost productivity, but also of lost job experience and private-sector skill acquisition.
To fight youth unemployment, supply-side reforms aimed at increasing the productivity of millennial workers across the country must be enacted. A program of tax-cuts and deregulation would enable established firms and startups to hire more workers, bringing more millennials into the workforce. Additionally, investment into America’s digital infrastructure would enable Internet cyber entrepreneurs to create the high-skilled jobs of tomorrow.