The Real Enron: United States Government

Another scary article was published today discussing gross (and if it were anyone but the Federal Government, the criminal) negligence. This article, published by the USA Today reveals that the real U.S. deficit FAR exceeds the “official” numbers released by the Government.

Which is worse the “cooking the books” by the Federal Government or that of Enron?

Who’s misrepresentation of financial health will have a bigger impact… Kenneth Lay’s or our Elected Official’s?

Everyone (the press especially) cheers the demise of rich executives who skirt the law and mislead the public and yet where’s the outrage here when we’re talking about the continued fiscal health of every man, woman and child in America now and for generations to come….

Thanks USA Today for your reporting on this issue. If only the American people would begin to give a shit…

What’s the real federal deficit?

The federal government keeps two sets of books.

The set the government promotes to the public has a healthier bottom line: a $318 billion deficit in 2005.

The set the government doesn’t talk about is the audited financial statement produced by the government’s accountants following standard accounting rules. It reports a more ominous financial picture: a $760 billion deficit for 2005. If Social Security and Medicare were included — as the board that sets accounting rules is considering — the federal deficit would have been $3.5 trillion.

Congress has written its own accounting rules — which would be illegal for a corporation to use because they ignore important costs such as the growing expense of retirement benefits for civil servants and military personnel.

Last year, the audited statement produced by the accountants said the government ran a deficit equal to $6,700 for every American household. The number given to the public put the deficit at $2,800 per household.

A growing number of Congress members and accounting experts say it’s time for Congress to start using the audited financial statement when it makes budget decisions. They say accurate accounting would force Congress to show more restraint before approving popular measures to boost spending or cut taxes.

“We’re a bottom-line culture, and we’ve been hiding the bottom line from the American people,” says Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., a former investment banker. “It’s not fair to them, and it’s delusional on our part.”

The House of Representatives supported Cooper’s proposal this year to ask the president to include the audited numbers in his budgets, but the Senate did not consider the measure.

Good accounting is crucial at a time when the government faces long-term challenges in paying benefits to tens of millions of Americans for Medicare, Social Security and government pensions, say advocates of stricter accounting rules in federal budgeting.

“Accounting matters,” says Harvard University law professor Howell Jackson, who specializes in business law. “The deficit number affects how politicians act. We need a good number so politicians can have a target worth looking at.”

The audited financial statement — prepared by the Treasury Department — reveals a federal government in far worse financial shape than official budget reports indicate, a USA TODAY analysis found. The government has run a deficit of $2.9 trillion since 1997, according to the audited number. The official deficit since then is just $729 billion. The difference is equal to an entire year’s worth of federal spending.

READ the rest of this important article here: USAToday.com

US ‘could be going bankrupt’

I came across this great article on the future of the US economy. Oddly enough, I didn’t find it in the US press, but the UK press. It’s quite enlightening and more than a little scary. The irresponsible “who cares about tomorrow” decisions of our government are compounding and will eventually reach a tipping point….

By Edmund Conway, Economics Editor

(Filed: 14/07/2006)

The United States is heading for bankruptcy, according to an extraordinary paper published by one of the key members of the country’s central bank.

A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve.

Prof Kotlikoff said that, by some measures, the US is already bankrupt. “To paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary, is the United States at the end of its resources, exhausted, stripped bare, destitute, bereft, wanting in property, or wrecked in consequence of failure to pay its creditors,” he asked.

According to his central analysis, “the US government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments of various kinds”.

The budget deficit in the US is not massive. The Bush administration this week cut its forecasts for the fiscal shortfall this year by almost a third, saying it will come in at 2.3pc of gross domestic product. This is smaller than most European countries – including the UK – which have deficits north of 3pc of GDP.

READ the full article here