Americans born between 1982 and 2000 represent more than a quarter of our population. These millennials now outnumber baby boomers, and they’re becoming a growing force in our country’s policy debates.
Still, their voices are too often overlooked. To help change that, the White House hosted nearly 200 of these young men and women last week for “Generation Next,” a forum for discussions with senior Administration officials that included an interview with President Donald J. Trump.
Attendees at the summit included small business owners, farmers, journalists, policy analysts, and leaders from college campuses across the country. Charlie Kirk, founder of the conservative nonprofit Turning Point USA, asked the President about taxes, trade policy, and free speech.
The conversation focused on how best to support this next generation of American entrepreneurs and policy advocates.
“You know, we were at about 1.2 percent GDP. We’ve now hit 3, and another 3, and a 3.2,” President Trump said in response to a question about tax cuts and the economy. “Our businesses are flourishing. Jobs are—now, people are going to have choice.”
The President made it clear that these opportunities must be available for all types of workers. “We’re trying a very big push for vocational schools,” he said, recalling the example of a former classmate who liked to work with his hands. “That person could fix an engine or a motor so—he was incredible. Blindfolded,” the President continued. “So we need vocational schools.”
Kirk also asked President Trump about free speech on America’s college campuses. “I think the numbers are actually much different than people think. I think we have a lot of support,” the President said. “You could call it conservative, you call it whatever you want—but they’re people that want free speech.”
The other topics discussed throughout the day were as diverse as the backgrounds and experiences of the millennials that filled the room. Among the highlights:
Special Assistant to the President Kelly Sadler moderated a panel on Jobs, Tax Cuts, and Workforce Development with Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta and Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump.
- Because of the growing economy, young people will now graduate into a market with jobs, higher wages, and businesses competing for talent, Ms. Trump said.
- That improving economy is crucial, because too many millennials still struggle to find work. To combat this trend, the Department of Labor under Secretary Acosta is working to make sure America’s young people acquire the right skills from schools and workforce training programs.
Charlie Kirk moderated a Q&A session with President Trump, covering everything from the job market to the opioid crisis.
- “Millennials starting out, you have a tremendous advantage now over what you had. You’re going to pay less taxes. You have far more incentive,” the President said.
- On opioids, the President was clear: “We have to stop the drugs from coming in.” He discussed how his Administration is investing $6 billion to fight the opioid crisis, as well as $1.6 billion toward the border wall to help stop the flow of illicit drugs into the United States.
A panel with Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and Justice Department Director of Public Affairs Sarah Flores devoted attention to two crucial issues: opioid addiction and free speech on campus.
- Fentanyl has “50 times the potency of heroin, 100 times the potency of morphine,” Ms. Conway said. She invited any Americans affected by the opioid crisis to share their personal stories via the Administration’s The Crisis Next Door website.
- Director Flores shared that the Drug Enforcement Administration recently started running a new unit out of Kentucky, offering a region focus on opioid abuse in rural areas. “It is about surging resources there. It’s about getting DEA agents on the ground, and getting prosecutors on the ground,” she said.
- “On college campuses, so many college students are being silenced,” Director Flores said. When it comes to changing the culture at colleges and universities, “all of you guys can do far more than I can on that,” she added.
Additional topics covered during the summit included paid family leave, occupational licensing, and immigration.
“Keep up the courage, fight the good fight, because I think that the college campus is so important to setting some of these trends that will affect the rest of the country,” Director Flores told attendees.