Defeat the Debt is a project that educates United States citizens on the true scope of the national debt. It is part of Employment Policies Institutes (EPI), which is an organization that researches problems related to employment and advocates solutions. The Defeat the Debt project presents figures and scenarios for the average American to understand America’s debt crisis. This project encourages people to submit ideas on how to better the national debt and vote on them. The project gains exposure through print ads, online videos, and people who dress in costume.
In 2011, the U.S. national debt was more than $14 trillion US Dollars (USD). According to some economy experts, that debt was expected to rise by $4 trillion USD by around 2020. The Defeat the Debt projects tries to bring attention to this problem and give people ideas on how to fix it. For example, the project’s website pointed out that the vast majority of U.S. politicians do not have the expertise to solve the problem on their own. It also talked about how the debt is growing faster, even though many attempts have been made and plans proposed to stop the crisis.
Defeat the Debt aims to explain complex financial problems in simple terms. It talks about deficit and debt by applying the terms to credit cards and borrowing money from other people. For example, purchasing $1,000 USD in goods when a person has only $900 USD creates a $100 USD deficit, which puts that person in debt until it can be paid. Some of the project’s solutions have faced criticism, with people claiming that the organization has an alternative agenda. In fact, the project has been accused of twisting facts to push conservative ideas, such as no additional taxes on the rich.
The project is a non-for-profit that first gained exposure in an unusual way. Besides the standard print ads and online videos, Defeat the Debt had people dress up as Uncle Sam and hold cardboard signs stating variations of “12 trillion $$$ in debt. PLEASE HELP.” Uncle Sam is the American government personified, usually shown as an older man wearing a red, white, and blue business suit. The cardboard signs were similar to signs homeless people use to ask for money. By having “Uncle Sam” ask for trillions of dollars on a sidewalk, the Defeat the Debt project was drawing attention to the U.S.’s financial dilemma.