GOP lawmakers spotlight children to make point on debt

Many politicians talk about the impact of the soaring U.S. debt on the nation’s children. On Wednesday, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) actually trotted them out.
 
The newly elected chairwoman of the House Republicans convened a press conference outside the Capitol with about 10 fellow GOP lawmakers and more than a dozen young Republicans, in an effort to highlight the real-world effects of the fiscal crisis.
 

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“As the debate is looming over the fiscal cliff, we stand here to fight for those hard-working Americans and their families,” McMorris Rodgers said as she stood surrounded by children whose ages ranged from toddler to teenager, including one who wore a tuxedo. “As the federal government grows larger and larger, the middle class gets squeezed more and more.”
 
McMorris Rodgers said that when her youngest daughter was born two years ago, “her share of the national debt was $45,000.”
 
“And if the trend continues,” she went on, “by the time she’s in high school, that will have grown to $100,000. $100,000 per person in America. So that’s what we’re fighting for: We’re fighting for our children to grow up in an America where they’re not burdened with debt.”
 
That theme was repeated several times in an event that lasted more than 25 minutes, as lawmaker after lawmaker referenced their own families in discussing the need to rein in the national debt, which stands at more than $16 trillion.
 
The press conference, held outdoors as the temperature hovered in the 40s, was perhaps less interesting to the children who participated. A couple of the younger ones began crying before it began, about 15 minutes late. And one young boy fell asleep on the ground in the middle. Several minutes later, a parent took him away.
 
A spokeswoman for McMorris Rodgers said the children were from the D.C. area, friends and family of Republican staffers.
 
For the most part, however, the children stood quietly for the cameras, earning plaudits for their patience.
 
“I have six kids — the oldest is 13, the youngest is two. They are not this well-behaved,” Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) said. As he was speaking, one child began stomping around in front of the cameras and yelling.
 
Duffy made a quick rhetorical pivot, saying that this generation needed to leave the country better off for its children and grandchildren. “And if we don’t,” he said as he gestured to the distraught child, “they’re going to throw tantrums just like this.”