It's like a five-alarm fire, but you can't see the flames. That's how one expert described the growing danger of the national debt, during a conference in Roanoke Wednesday morning.
Ferrum College sponsored the visit of the National Debt Tour to the Hotel Roanoke. The event included comments from Republican and Democratic lawmakers, and urgent warnings from budget experts.
Joe Minarik was the chief economist with the Office of Management and Budget during the Clinton administration, the last time the country had a balanced budget. "Our nation is in the rogues gallery of debtor nations. And what makes us different is our reputation. How long is our reputation going to last,"he asked.
Minarik said the debt crisis will require leaders who are willing to bend, because compromise is what it will take to move a divided government forward.
Roanoke business leaders and public officials were in the audience, and so were high school and college students. Franklin County High School Junior Katelyn Santrock said she hopes her generation will pay attention. "You deal with it every day, so it's something that you have to keep in mind," she said.
Marcus Squires is a sophomore at Ferrum College. "I think every single American should be concerned about this topic," he said, "because it's our future, it's our country's future."