Paul Revere Rides Again
A former U.S. comptroller general sounds the alarm about the federal budget.
To: Mr. David Walker
Comeback America Initiative
Comeback America Initiative
Thank you for coming to our company’s offices and telling us the truth about the financial threats facing our country. You were the comptroller general of the United States from 1998 to 2008 and as such, were appointed by the president and confirmed by the United States Senate. Not surprisingly, you are a CPA and were awarded the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ highest award in 2008.
You told us some startling facts: Since 1997, the first year the government prepared consolidated financial statements for the federal budget, the comptroller general has refused to endorse the accuracy of them. While the Constitution mandates that the budget for the federal government originate in Congress, that body has failed in its duty for the last two years.
As someone who resigned in 2008 to warn us of the dangers of our profligacy, you are, unsurprisingly, the author of many provocative quotes, such as:
“The most serious threat to the United States is not someone hiding in a cave in Afghanistan or Pakistan, but our own fiscal irresponsibility” (in a report on 60 Minutes).
This is the beginning of our holiday season, but I would urge everyone to turn off the holiday football games for at least some brief period of time and spend an important few minutes at the Web site of the Comeback America Initiative (tcaii.org), which you founded. It offers enough sobering information to ward off post-Thanksgiving slumber.
According to an analysis performed by the Comeback American Initiative (CAI) and based on Congressional Budget Office numbers, the federal government is currently spending $4 billion a day more than it takes in. Your clarion warning is more distressing than Paul Revere’s; after all, Revere warned us that the British were coming (most colonialists were British). Your warning is “the creditors are coming”—and none of us are creditors but basically, debtors.
As the Novembers of even-numbered years approach, there is no shortage of candidates running around with their hair on fire yelling all kinds of warnings. The reason why all people concerned about the future of this country should go to the CAI Web site is because it includes a detailed analysis of how we all can take back America. This is high public service, and I can only hope that the “super committee” on deficit reduction will read this report.
Many of us who run businesses have read some of these various proposals; the Ryan proposal, the Simpson-Bowles report, and much of the punditry surrounding those efforts. The CAI report, entitled “Restoring Fiscal Sanity” is, I feel, the best thing put forward to save our country. The plan outlines basically two approaches:
• A preemptive framework to address fiscal issues prior to a debt crisis. This detailed and specific approach takes on all the sacred cows, including budget controls, Social Security, health care, defense, and tax reform, while at the same time recommending $500 billion for additional investments to stimulate job growth. It would balance the federal primary budget by the year 2014 and would reduce the debt to 63 percent of GDP by 2021. It would also impose an annual budget cap on all major spending categories except Social Security and interest on the federal debt.
• A reactive framework, to be adopted in response to a debt crisis. This approach would balance the total federal budget by 2015 and reduce the public debt to 51 percent of GDP by the year 2021.
If we do not adopt these programs or other significant fiscal reforms, by the year 2022, according to the CAI, future federal revenues will only cover Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and interest on the national debt. No revenue will be available for transfer to the states, national defense, homeland security, and just about every other current government program. And, depending upon what assumption you make about interest rates, by 2055, revenue at the current projected levels would only cover interest on our ballooning federal debt, leaving no revenue for any government program, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
That is the truth that the Comeback America Initiative is working to resolve. Interested citizens who go to the Web site or hear your presentation will also note your analysis of federal spending and the political party in power: federal spending continuing to outstrip revenue, regardless of what party is in control. In other words, the political class treats federal expenditures as their collective campaign budgets.
This is truly patriotic stuff. We can yet affect the future of this country in very positive ways, and we have been warned. Paul Revere had his ride and our forefathers responded. The Comeback America Initiative is sounding the alarm and showing us how to respond.
Thank you, David Walker. True patriots will respond.
Vance K. Opperman, A Patriot