With his "U.S. Financial Burden Barometer" ticking up at a rate of $10 million per minute before the eyes of more than 100 American University students on Tuesday, former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker told them they need to "get with it" and recognize what's happening to them.

They seemed to take it to heart.

"It's just daunting to think about," said Allie Niese, vice president of American University's Roosevelt Institute, a student political organization. "It sort of crushes your spirit. You think you're going through this great experience of college, gaining all this knowledge and becoming work-ready, but you still have this weight shackled to your ankle that you have to deal with."

Wednesday's finale
Former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker and former Office of Management and Budget chief Alice Rivlin will offer findings from audiences at Walker's month-long nationwide bus tour, which he says show support for strong fiscal leadership from the next president. Wednesday's event is at 1 p.m. downtown in the Zenger Room of The National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW. It is free and open to the public.

One AU graduate student, Andrew Jensen, took to the microphone during the question-and-answer session and simply asked "When can this be fixed?"

"This is not just an economic issue, or a fiscal issue -- it's a moral and ethical issue," Walker said. "I have three grandchildren... they didn't create this problem... but it's their problem. They will pay the price and they will bear the burden if others fail to act."

During the penultimate stop of his Comeback America Initiative's $10 Million a Minute, 34 events in 34 days national bus tour at American University on Tuesday, Walker laid out the facts of the national debt and discussed what students can do about what he calls the current $70 trillion burden on Americans. His "Burden Barometer" goes beyond the approximate $16 trillion national debt to consider things like total liabilities, unfunded social insurance promises, and other federal commitments.

"Young people... need to be more informed and involved in the issue, because ultimately, you are going to get the bill," Walker said.

AU students are ranked by the Princeton Review as the most politically active among university students nationwide. The president of the school's student government says its time for her peers to tackle the national debt issue.

"I think a lot of students, because they can't see the current implications of it, haven't really thought about it," said Emily Yu. "But when it hits us it's going to hit us really hard, and we're long overdue to start thinking about this issue.

"Bringing something like this on campus is important for getting students engaged in this issue."