Janus Forum welcomes fiscal experts Alice Rivlin and David Walker to discuss the national debt

The U.S. national debt has long been among the most contentious issues in American politics, with liberals and conservatives and everyone in between offering their solutions. This October, two prominent experts on the topic will meet on the Janus Forum stage to address the question, “Is the National Debt the New Road to Serfdom?”

The Janus Forum is at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25 at the Wilks Theatre in the Armstrong Student Center. Tickets are free to the public and available at the Miami University Box Office.

If their backgrounds are anything to go by, Alice Rivlin, former vice chair of the Federal Reserve Board and Brookings Institution senior fellow, and David Walker, strategic adviser and fiscal responsibility advocate, will most certainly demonstrate differing views.

Alice Rivlin

Alice Rivlin

“Both Alice Rivlin and David Walker are highly respected in the political and economic circles of Washington,” said Bryan Marshall, professor and chair of political science, which is co-hosting the event. “In the Janus Forum’s spirit of promoting an informative and rigorous discussion, we’re looking forward to hearing how they confront the very real issue of our national debt, especially in light of today’s political challenges.”

As the founding director of the Congressional Budget Office and former chair of the District of Columbia Control Board, Rivlin is considered one of the most influential policymakers in Washington. She was appointed by President Obama to serve on the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform and help solve the nation’s budget problems. She is currently a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a professor at Georgetown University.

Walker has been called the “Paul Revere on the unsustainable fiscal outlook for our country” and was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1998 as the U.S. Comptroller General. In that position, which he held until 2008, he introduced transformational reforms for the U.S. Government Accountability Office. He also headed the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which distributed the documentary film “I.O.U.S.A.” He now works with domestic and international government leaders on improving fiscal responsibility and accountability.

David Walker

David Walker

Patrick Haney, political scientist and College of Arts Science associate dean, has worked with the JANUS Forum since its founding in 2013 and said this event is another example of the students at Miami University being willing to tackle tough issues in a public forum.

“Whether it is the size of government, race, international affairs or, with this event, our fiscal future, Miami’s students should be commended for their willingness and ability to confront challenging issues in our democracy publicly and openly,” he added.

Colin Greig (Miami ’17), the Janus Forum’s new program coordinator, looks forward to this forum after having served on the Janus Student Executive Board last year. He graduated with a bachelor’s and master’s in political science.

“Students and faculty are very excited for this Janus Forum,” Greig noted. “They know that Alice Rivlin and Dave Walker are among the top experts in economic policy and that they will move beyond the talking points and get to the substance of this challenging and contentious issue.”

Jacob Bruggeman, a senior political science and history double major, will serve as the forum’s moderator and is a multiyear member of the Janus Student Steering Committee. "Both of our speakers have spent decades developing expertise in economic policy, and from their accumulation of experiences both in and out of government, they have developed pointed positions on the U.S. national debt,” he said. “Given the perennial importance of debate on this topic, Rivlin and Walker should stimulate engaged and informed dialogues on Miami's campus."

The Janus Student Executive Board will also play a key role in the forum. It includes Madeline Zick, Janus president, Pat O’Malley, steering committee chair, Sara Rosomoff, vice president for external affairs, and Annika Fowler, vice president for internal affairs.

The Janus Forum is sponsored by The Thomas W. Smith Project on Liberty, Democracy and Citizenship and the Miami University department of political science. It is made possible through the generous support of The Thomas W. Smith (Miami ’50) Foundation.

For more information about the event, visit the Janus Forum website or contact Colin Greig at greigcj@MiamiOH.edu.