My Lunch with Joe Biden
Earlier today, I sat down for lunch with Vice President Joe Biden. You might be wondering: What's a 21 year-old college student doing sharing a meal with Biden? We'll get to that, but first a little background.
Well, we've heard a lot about the fiscal cliff these past few weeks, but it's hard to put things in perspective without talking to the people who would actually be impacted if Congress doesn’t reach a deal. Basically, if Congress fails to reach a deal by Jan. 1, the average middle-class family will see their taxes go up and a variety of programs that millions of Americans rely on will be dramatically cut.
Which is why I was so excited to meet Joe Biden. It gave me an opportunity to share my story and talk about how my family and I would be impacted.
From the start I could tell that the vice president actually wanted to hear our stories. I had a sense of his sincerity and his willingness to listen. After Biden briefed us on where things stood on fiscal cliff negotiations on the Hill, he asked all of us—there were six other people at the table—of different ages and backgrounds—how individually we'd be impacted by the absence of a fair deal. Throughout the lunch, Biden took notes as we shared our stories. He would often jump in to ask us to talk more about a certain part of our story.
So we went around the table and shared our stories: who we are, what we do, and why the fiscal cliff, especially the middle-class tax cuts, matters to us and our families. I was the youngest person of the group, with others ranging from 40s and older; one gentleman said he was 82.
As a student at The George Washington University, I was able to offer the perspective of young people. This is especially important as our generation made up nearly 20 percent of all voters in the election last month. As we make our voices heard, our political influence continues to grow and I was so grateful to have the opportunity to tell the vice president about the issues we face.
I’m a senior and will be graduating this spring with more than $30,000 in student debt, and am concerned about covering my repayments and finding a job. But I know that my situation is not unique; I explained that these are issues millions of young people and their families are facing right now. And that’s why it’s so important that Congress keeps tax rates low for middle-class families.
The average family would see a tax hike of $2,200 next year if Congress can't reach a deal. For many, that would be devastating. My dad is a teacher and my mom is a librarian. With six children to raise (five boys and one girl), we never had a lot of money, but we always got by. A tax hike would really hurt us and could potentially cause my mom to get a second job.
Hearing the stories of each person at the table was humbling and gave me a new perspective on the issue. Each of them faced their own challenges, and many have families that rely on them and would be hurt by a tax hike.
Take Bob Hage from New Jersey who has a wife and three children, including twin 9-year old daughters with developmental disabilities. He owns a small business which handles equipment financing for hotels, gas stations, and convenience stores and if taxes are raised on his family, they will be forced to eliminate some of their daughters’ therapies and activities, which have proven to be crucial to their development.
Sharing that meal with people like Bob was an incredible experience. I walked away with more than just six new friends. I gained a much better understanding of why this issue matters so much and why Congress needs to reach a deal as soon as possible. With the holidays approaching, middle-class families need to know they won’t face a tax hike next year and that their leaders are putting Americans' interests first.
Before Biden left, he said that "this is no time to add any additional burden for middle class people” and it’s time that some members of Congress stop holding “hostage the relief for the middle class."
I couldn’t agree more.
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