Tuesday, December 18, 2007

GAO: If Gov’t Were A Business, ‘Our Stock Would Be Dropping’ And We’d Need A ‘Major Shake-Up’


Yesterday, the Treasury Department released a troubling financial report that revealed the federal government’s “total liabilities and unfunded commitments for future payments” related to Social Security and Medicare are now estimated at $53 trillion, up from $20 trillion in 2000.

In a speech yesterday at the National Press Club, GAO Comptroller General David Walker said:

If the federal government was a private corporation and the same report came out this morning, our stock would be dropping and some people would be talking about whether the company’s management directors needed a major shake-up.

“The federal government’s total liabilities,” Walker explained, “translates into a de facto mortgage of about $455,000 for every American household and there’s no house to back that mortgage. In other words, our government has made a whole lot of promises that, in the long run, it cannot possibly keep without huge tax increases.”

In his speech, Walker said, “I have become increasingly frustrated by the widespread myopia, tunnel vision and self-centeredness in Washington DC.”

Illustrating Walker’s point, President Bush — while discussing the economy yesterday — did not reference the Treasury Department’s new report. “Rather, he touted the economic merits of tax cuts. ‘I’ll veto any tax increase,’ he said.”

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan writes, “The Cost of Bush: $32 trillion.”

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