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US debt is hindering growth and burdening youth, Mitch Daniels warns

Former Gov. Mitch Daniels, now Purdue's chief, says of American youth: 'This generation has a right to be as upset with its elders as any in history. They are going to inherit a mountain of debt.'

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Purdue University President Mitch Daniels speaks at the Monitor-hosted breakfast for reporters in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013.

Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor

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Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, director of the Office of Management and Budget under George W. Bush and a two-term Republican governor of Indiana before assuming his current role in 2013, was the guest at the Oct. 30 Monitor Breakfast.

Q: President Obama's proposal to tie federal financial aid to new government ratings of universities and colleges:

A: "The general idea of focusing more on performance ... is a good idea, but I am pretty dubious about the federal government being the ones to put a system together."

The nation's $17 trillion debt:

"The debts we are piling up right now are an obstacle to growth.... It is the largest nonmilitary danger we have ever faced."

Young people and the nation's finances:

"This generation has a right to be as upset with its elders as any in history. They are going to inherit a mountain of debt."

Young people and the Affordable Care Act:

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"[It] soaks the young to benefit their elders. Premiums for young people will go up way beyond whatever is actuarially fair and accurate in order to subsidize the elders."

The longer-term response to the Affordable Care Act by young people:

"I don't think they have quite focused on this. But when they do, they are going to say 'We got handed a really raw deal here.' "

Why faster economic growth is critical:

"We are not going to be ... an economically successful country, a solvent country, or – frankly – a societally harmonious country at 1 to 2 percent growth rates. It will destroy something bigger than the middle class; it will destroy the sense of upward mobility and therefore social cohesiveness that we have always been blessed with."

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