The above video discusses the origin of the national debt, how spending priorities have changed and why excessive federal debt is a concern. In the early 20th century, federal spending focused on defense and education, while today much of the budget goes to social security and health care, with the threat of rising interest payments lingering. The video continues by outlining mandatory versus discretionary spending, the imbalance in health care spending for treatments versus prevention, the economic situation facing young adults and the current political climate.

Do You Understand Why the National Debt Defines the Future for Millennials? was created by 20 graduate students in multiple disciplines across the University of Virginia in a cross-disciplinary seminar led by Professor Mary Margaret Frank, academic director of Darden’s Institute for Business in Society. Frank was awarded the Aspen Institute Faculty Pioneer Award for her innovative work teaching business school graduates how government and business can work together to solve problems and create opportunities. 

About the Expert

Mary Margaret Frank

Samuel A. Lewis Sr. Faculty Fellow and Associate Professor of Business Administration

Frank’s expertise is in the integration of business and public policy, including cross-sector collaborations. She is a former board member of the Female Health Company, which works with public-private partnerships that empower women to fight HIV globally, especially in Africa.

Her additional expertise is in regulated disclosure focusing on tax, financial accounting and patent reporting. Her most recent research examines international tax settings. More broadly, her research focuses on the effects of regulated disclosure on corporate management, investors and entrepreneurs.

Frank practiced as a CPA and worked for Arthur Andersen in Washington, D.C., as a senior tax consultant. She served on the board of directors and chair of the Audit Committee of Veru Inc., formerly known as the Female Health Company. She wrote “The Potential for Inflating Earnings Through the Expected Rate of Return on Defined Benefit Pension Plan Assets” with Brian Adams and Tod Perry in Accounting Horizons.

Frank was awarded the 2014 Aspen Institute Faculty Pioneer Award for her innovative work teaching business school graduates how government and business can work together to solve problems and create opportunities.

B.S., M.Acc., Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill