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Anti-Debt Group Founded at PA to Bring "I.O.U.S.A." to Campus for Screening on Oct. 23

The screening will be held Thursday, October 23 at 6:30 p.m. in Kemper Auditorium.

Concerned Youth of America Group and founder Yoni Gruskin '07 had role in Sundance Film Festival documentary.

October 08, 2008  —“I.O.U.S.A: One Nation. Under Stress. In Debt.,” is a documentary film that clearly, dramatically and concisely tells the frightening story of the rising national debt, and “may be to the U.S. economy what ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ was to the environment,” read a review from the international news service Reuters. Released last January in time for the Sundance Film Festival, “I.O.U.S.A.” features Berkshire Hathaway mogul Warren Buffett; Peter G. Peterson, founder of the newly created Peter G. Peterson Foundation and the Blackstone Group; David Walker, former comptroller general of the United States; and a small, determined group of  Phillips Academy alumni who made a name for themselves while still at Andover.

Yoni Gruskin, Prateek Kumar, Martin Serna, John Gwin, Michael Tully and Sarah Guo, all Class of 2007, announced the formation of the Concerned Youth of America (CYA) in May of their senior year. The national debt stood just above $8.5 trillion. Last Thursday, it surpassed $10 trillion, a figure that still does not factor in the money for the recent rescue or the money needed to maintain operations in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Gruskin, who is president of CYA and a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, said, “With all of the money being thrown around to deal with problems in our economy, it is more important than ever to consider where this money is coming from, and who will ultimately be stuck with the bill.” He also noted that in the first presidential debate, neither candidate offered any changes to their agendas in light of the explosion in government spending. “If these costs are not accounted for in the next administration, then it is guaranteed that our generation will be forced to pay the consequences of today’s irresponsible policies,” Gruskin warned.

On Thursday, October 23, Gruskin arrives on campus, film in hand, for a showing at 6:30 p.m. in Kemper Auditorium on Chapel Ave. Accompanied by fellow CYA board member Kumar who is a sophomore at Harvard University, they also will engage the audience in a question and answer session.

Gruskin will host similar screenings on campuses across the country that week, including Stanford University, the University of Southern California, UCLA, Chapman University in California, and Drake University in Iowa.

Gruskin and other CYA members were included in the film last year in several scenes in which they were working to make other students aware of the spiraling debt. In one scene captured on film, they were decked out in prison garb to dramatize the impact the debt, if it continues to grow, will have on them as adults. CYA has, over the past year and a half, built a base of more than 30 chapters on high school and college campuses across the country.

Pete Peterson, the American financier who cofounded the Blackstone Group private equity firm and served as secretary of commerce in the Nixon administration, recently launched the foundation that bears his name with $1 billion in seed money to bring the national debt to the forefront of the nation’s agenda. He is concentrating much of the foundation’s effort on the youth of America. Peterson bought the rights to “I.O.U.S.A.” last summer and has begun a campaign to expose Americans from coast to coast to its urgent message. CYA’s screening tour is sponsored by the Peterson Foundation.

Gruskin calls the film “surprisingly entertaining, even funny,” yet very effective in getting the message to young people. It was directed and produced by the husband and wife team of Patrick Creadon and Christine O’Malley. A trailer for the film may be viewed at the following Web site: http://revver.com/video/1101487/iousa-movie-trailer/

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