Clemson's team of of economics students submitted the winning proposal for putting the federal government on a sustainable fiscal path

Fiscal Challenge team members, from left to right, include, Darby Voisin; Jason Marshall; Raymond “Skip” Sauer, team adviser; Kaitlin Matheson; Dylan Bargar; and Rebecca Moore.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — If a little bit of Clemson ingenuity rubbed off on Washington this week, it might do the nation’s budget and economy some good.

Economics students from Clemson University made that kind of a statement earlier this week in the nation’s capital at the national collegiate Fiscal Challenge on Capitol Hill. The Clemson team’s proposal on how to stabilize the nation’s debt to Gross Domestic Product ratio won first place against three other finalists, all from North Carolina, in a competition where college students defend their plans for putting the U.S. on a sustainable fiscal path.

Members of the Clemson team included Dylan Bargar, of Greenville, senior, economics; Jason Marshall, Beaufort, senior, economics/political science; Kaitlin Matheson, Easley, senior, economics;  Rebecca Moore, Columbia, senior, economics; and Darby Voisin, Anderson, junior, economics.

“Our team put a tremendous amount of work into developing their budget proposal,” said Raymond “Skip” Sauer, the John E. Walker Department of Economics chair and team adviser. “They’ve been meeting three days a week since January and the collaboration of all five of them gave them the ability to attack the budget challenge on all possible fronts. What they did on Capitol Hill was impressive and very hard to replicate in a classroom.”

Judging was conducted by a group of four federal budget experts associated with major Washington think tanks and government organizations. About 20 teams from across the country submitted budget plans anonymously to avoid any possibility of school bias in the judging. The evaluation committee selected the best proposals before the four finalists were invited to Washington, still anonymous, to present their proposals to the panel of federal budget experts.

Mike Aguilar, of UNC-Chapel Hill, national coordinator of the Fiscal Challenge, said Clemson’s winning proposal “struck a nice balance between spending cuts and tax increases. One thing that set Clemson apart was their advocacy of supply-side changes to stimulate growth and their support for structural reforms to the budget process itself.”

Team member Matheson said preparing for the competition was like taking another class. “It gave us a real-world focus to tackle issues on real budgets. The experience gave us all a realistic understanding of the political, social and economic issues that our nation faces. From a student’s perspective, this was a great maturity and confidence-builder to know you can apply what you’ve learned to read-world problems.”

She will build on her maturity and confidence as an intern this summer at a Greenville wealth management firm. She plans to attend graduate school at Clemson after finishing her undergrad work in December.