U.S. Government Accountability Office Warns that Action is Needed to Avoid Economic Ruination
During testimony before the House Budget Committee, bureaucrats from the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) warned members of the committee that “the federal government is highly leveraged in debt by historical norms,” and a broad fiscal plan is needed to avoid economic ruination. Unfortunately, mainstream media outlets did not report on the committee meeting because they are laser focused on their search for Russian boogeymen, so Americans did not hear of the GAO’s dire warning to Congress; Putin is probably responsible for America’s annual deficit and ever-growing national debt.
Congress has not passed a budget in nearly a decade; it continues to bundle appropriation bills together to avoid the heavy lifting that comes with crafting a fiscally responsible budget. What happens when the federal government operates without budgetary restraints; there is an annual deficit, and the national debt grows due to the unchecked spending habits of politicians and bureaucrats.
According to the GAO’s 2016 Financial Report, “the federal deficit in fiscal year 2016 increased to $587 billion, up from $439 billion in fiscal year 2015. The federal government’s receipts (taxes and other collections) increased by $18 billion, from $3,248.7 billion to $3,266.7 billion, but that was outweighed by a $166.5 billion increase in spending from the previous year.” The federal government has confiscated income from American workers and squandered the money on vote-buying, ‘progressive’ programs that have put America on an unsustainable fiscal path. Americans’ return on their tax dollars is an ever-increasing public debt that “rose as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) from 74 percent at the end of fiscal year 2015 to 77 percent at the end of fiscal year 2016.” The percentage of debt-to-GDP has averaged forty-four percent since 1946, but the Obama administration, Democrats, and the Republicans who rubber-stamped Obama’s agenda raised the debt-to-GDP percentage every year of Obama’s presidency. Here are the yearly percentages:
- 2009 – 53.0
- 2010 – 60.9
- 2011 – 65.9
- 2012 – 70.4
- 2013 – 72.6
- 2014 – 74.4
- 2015 – 73.6
- 2016 – 77.0
These are sobering numbers that demand action by our elected representatives.
The GAO projects that the debt-to-GDP ratio will surpass the historical high of one hundred twelve percent within fifteen to twenty-five years. In 1945, the debt-to-GDP ratio reached one hundred twelve percent because the American people were funding World War II, but a post-war economic boom provided a necessary correction to reduce the debt. For the past sixteen years, America has been at war, which has contributed to the national debt, and the prospect of an end to the war on terrorism is bleak. Of course, the odds of an economic boom are more of a longshot than the prospect of peace; service jobs, search engines, and social media websites are not capable of creating a tide to raise all boats and stave off economic ruination.
The comptroller of the United States, Gene L. Dodaro, provided this warning to the House Budget Committee:
“The Congress and administration face a serious economic, security, and social challenges that will require difficult policy choices in the short-term about the level of federal spending and investments as well as ways to obtain needed resources. At the same time, the federal government is highly leveraged in debt by historical norms, and on an unsustainable long-term fiscal path caused by a structural imbalance between revenue and spending absent a change in fiscal policy.”
Dodaro explained that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the interest on debt held by the public (net interest) account for the overwhelming majority of federal spending, and precise, meaningful reforms are necessary to correct America’s fiscal path.
The spending cuts and policy reforms necessary to pass a balanced budget and reduce the national debt require members of Congress to make tough, selfless decisions that may result in defeats at the ballot box, which is why they avoid passing a budget and don’t even acknowledge the annual deficit and debt. The GAO continues to admonish Congress to take crucial steps to solve America’s financial problems, which go unheeded because there is a dearth of courage in Congress and a rapacious appetite by its members for the spoils that come with their offices. It is much easier and politically expedient to talk about Russian boogeymen and the secret meaning of covfefe than it is to address real issues like the national debt.