Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Comptroller General Attacks Fiscal Insanity

Via PoliticalWire, a must-read essay in Business Week by David Walker, the Comptroller General and Head of the Government Accounting Office. The whole thing is important, but here are some quotes:

"Unfortunately, there is no question that both U.S. government spending and tax cuts are spiraling out of control. Recent increases in federal budget deficits have far outpaced the cost of the global war on terrorism and incremental homeland security costs. Although the $319 billion fiscal 2005 deficit was considerably lower than the previous year's, it is still imprudently high -- especially given that federal spending is expected to increase dramatically when the baby boomers begin to retire later this decade. …

The federal government should provide more clarity about where we are and where we are headed from a fiscal perspective. It also should reimpose meaningful budget controls on both the tax and spending sides of the ledger and begin a long-overdue review of all major federal spending programs, tax policies, and operating practices. …

It's true that other industrialized countries also face serious long-range fiscal challenges. But that's no excuse to delay getting our house in order. After all, our future economic security, competitive standing, quality of life, and even national security are at stake.

As a student of history and a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, I long have been impressed by the example of George Washington, who was a strong believer in fiscal discipline. In his 1796 farewell address, Washington admonished the nation to avoid 'not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear.' Americans today would be wise to heed Washington's timeless wisdom."


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