Speaking last month at a Town Hall event in Binghamton, N.Y., President Obama said this: “We don't have an urgent deficit crisis. The only crisis we have is the one that is manufactured in Washington and it's ideological and the basic notion is that we shouldn't be helping people get health care and we shouldn't be helping kids who can't help themselves and whose parents are under resourced, we shouldn't be helping them get a leg up.”
Obama was referring, as usual, to House Republicans who, in his accounting, want to defund Obamacare, starve women and children by cutting food stamps, destroy the middle class and heap special tax benefits on their corporate cronies. This declaration may appear at first glance no more unique or accurate than any of this president's many other attempts to shift blame away from himself and his Democratic supporters in Congress to the House Republican majority.
But on closer inspection, there is something in Obama’s words that ought to worry every American, regardless of party, ideology, economic status or ethnicity. Consider Obama’s claim that “we don’t have an urgent deficit crisis.” As blogger Doug Ross recently pointed out, that assertion likely stunned accounting and financial management experts at the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Budget Office.
The GAO’s most recent report on the government’s consolidated financial statements identified major flaws in federal accounting that “(1) hamper the federal government’s ability to reliably report a significant portion of its assets, liabilities, costs, and other related information; (2) affect the federal government’s ability to reliably measure the full cost, as well as the financial and nonfinancial performance of certain programs and activities; (3) impair the federal government’s ability to adequately safeguard significant assets and properly record various transactions; and (4) hinder the federal government from having reliable financial information to operate in an efficient and effective manner.”
Translated from the bureaucratese, the GAO said the federal government can’t account for its assets or debts, doesn’t know what it owns, is unable to track accurately what it buys, has no idea if most of its programs work and can’t provide taxpayers with creditable data about its financial condition. If GAO was talking about a Fortune 500 company instead of the federal government, the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission would be filing criminal and civil charges against the CEO and numerous other top executives.
There is no comfort for Obama from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, either. In its 2012 budget projections, CBO warned of "a growing imbalance between revenues and non-interest spending, combined with the spiraling cost of net interest, [that] would swiftly push debt upward in an unsustainable way.” The CBO added that “the explosive path of federal debt ... underscores the need for major changes in current policies to put the nation on a sustainable fiscal course."
Politicians routinely throw around partisan rhetoric. What's worrisome about Obama is that he seems to believe his own.