President Lyndon Johnson, to make the deficit numbers during the Vietnam War less scary, adopted the "unified budget," under which Social Security's surplus was mingled with general revenue, thereby reducing -- disguising, really -- the deficit's size. That, Cooper says, was the "original sin" in the budgeting sleight of hand that prevents the public from knowing, and Congress from being compelled to act on, facts about the entitlement programs' unfunded liabilities -- promises to future beneficiaries that future taxpayers may not be willing to keep.Why you are insane to think the major part of your retirement program is Social Security, because once the Boomers are done with their "entitlement" part of the budget ....
Cooper, who has an unshakable appetite for unappetizing numbers, wishes that more Americans were similarly eccentric and would read the 188-page 2008 Financial Report of the United States Government -- the only government document that calculates what deficit and debt numbers would be if the government practiced, as businesses must, accrual accounting.
Under such accounting, future outlays to which beneficiaries are entitled by existing law are acknowledged as expenditures before they are paid. Were the Social Security surplus sequestered for accounting purposes, reflecting the truth that it is already obligated, and were there similar treatment of the other entitlement programs' liabilities, the deficit for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 would have been $3 trillion rather than $454.8 billion. The report's numbers show that the true national debt is $56 trillion, not the widely reported $10 trillion.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
From a Democrat Congressman nonetheless. Wish he would talk to more of his friends ... though a George Will article will do for now.