The U.S. government’s balance sheet indicates that, over time, the nation has an accumulated deficit (from annual shortfalls as of Sept. 30, 2018) of $21.5 trillion. To put that in perspective, if you made a stack of 21.5 trillion $1 bills, you would be able to go to the moon and back more than three times.
In the past few weeks, Representatives Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) and Andy Barr (R-K.Y.) introduced the “Fiscal State of the Nation” resolution, H. Con. Res. 68, with 103 additional co-sponsors. It provides “for a joint hearing of the Committees on the Budget of the House of Representatives and the Senate to receive a presentation from the Comptroller General of the United States regarding the audited financial statement of the executive branch.”
The resolution ensures that members of Congress are made aware of the information in the federal financial statements and helps them to better understand how current and/or future policy may affect the nation’s long-term fiscal health.
“We thank Representatives Rice, Barr and the more than 100 other members who signed on to this important resolution,” SCACPA CEO Chris Jenkins said. “Their leadership will help ensure that key policymakers are focused on some of the most important aspects of the consolidated financial statements, including financial and stability measures. SCACPA is encouraging each South Carolina member of the U.S. House to also support this resolution by becoming a co-signer.”
The AICPA also supports the “Fiscal State of the Nation” resolution. The profession believes that the consolidated federal financial statements and the Government Accountability Office’s audit report provide valuable information on the financial condition of the federal government, and that policymakers should consider this information while making key decisions.
The U.S. Treasury began preparing consolidated financial statements of the federal government approximately 20 years ago, and the GAO performed its first audit with the 1996 federal fiscal year. SCACPA and the AICPA applaud the federal government for making significant improvements in federal financial management and reporting over the years. However, there are still obstacles that the government has not been able to overcome that have kept the GAO from rendering an opinion on the federal consolidated financial statements.