President Obama's focus on the economy is exactly what Millennials (Americans born between 1982-2003) want to hear. Their generation is experiencing Depression levels of unemployment, higher than any other generation. They deeply believe that the path to a better job leads through a better education. That’s why any Millennial jobs program must begin with the steps outlined in the President’s speech—a revitalization of community colleges, increased Pell Grants and a $10,000 tax credit for four years of college. Those who have graduated from college with unprecedented debt will particularly welcome the President's call to limit the amount they have to repay in any given year based on their income with complete forgiveness after twenty years or only half that time if the engage in public service. And the President's call for a small business hiring tax credit should help give Millennials a chance to earn some money as they enter the toughest job market any generation has faced in twenty-five years. Equally important are his administration’s K-12 education reforms that have attracted bi-partisan support from the parents of Millennials all across the country.
Now the Congress needs to step up to the plate and deliver on Obama's proposals. If Republicans continue to follow their "just say no" approach, they risk losing an entire generation of voters. But Democrats must prove they can govern, and deal with Millennial concerns when they do, if they hope to generate enough enthusiasm from young voters in 2010 to provide Democrats the type of victory Barack Obama enjoyed in 2008. Like First Lady Michelle Obama did during the State of the Union speech, they should put Millennials in the best seats in the House and keep their future uppermost in their minds as they fashion a new economy for these young Americans. It’s time to answer President Obama’s call to do “what’s best for the next generation.”