Out of Control Policy Blog

The news is bad. . .and getting worse

On current and future federal spending, that is. This gloomy conversation with Dave Walker, Comptroller General of the GAO is enough to put you off your dinner.

The federal government's long-term liabilities and unfunded obligations now total $45 trillion, or $365,000 for every worker. In one year, long-term liabilities rose by $13 trillion, mainly because of the new Medicare prescription-drug benefit. In contrast, the federal government's entire annual budget is $2.5 trillion.

Last year, the government's operating deficit was $567 billion. Only about $100 billion of that was from the war on terror and homeland security.

. . .

He does not mince words. In a recent speech, he said, "One of the biggest problems in Washington today is the continuing unwillingness of public officials to look to the future, recognize reality and make difficult policy choices. Unfortunately, time is working against us. The miracle of compounding works against you when you're a debtor."

. . .

He is also full of solutions _ reinstate budget reforms, set pay-as-you-go rules, be realistic about long-term ramifications of spending and set a national strategic plan based on what works and what doesn't, because "we don't have a clue about whether we're really making progress" with regard to how other nations are preparing for the future.

Adrian Moore is Vice President, Policy


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