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NEWS DIGEST

Government

 

December 2013

Former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker is closing a chapter in his campaign against the rising tide of government debt, but he is urging his fellow CPAs to help fight against what he calls fiscal irresponsibility by elected leaders.

Walker released the final report of his Comeback America Initiative, once again highlighting problems facing the finances of the federal government, states, and cities. The report is available at tinyurl.com/p4czdoo. Walker said he is closing his not-for-profit initiative to keep a long-standing commitment to his wife, Mary, to spend more time with his family.

But he is not retiring, he said, and as long as he is healthy, he won’t quit his fight for government fiscal responsibility. He called on CPAs to join him.

“People need to keep in mind that the ‘P’ in ‘CPA’ stands for ‘Public,’ ” Walker said during an interview with the JofA. “We have a public trust. We have to act in the public interest. We need make sure we are taking steps that improve accounting and reporting for governments. We’ve come a long way, but we’ve got a ways to go.”

The final Comeback America report presents a calculation that combines the federal government’s explicit liabilities, commitments, contingencies, and unfunded Social Security and Medicare promises.

In present-value dollars, the total in 2012 of these “off-balance-sheet obligations” was $69.7 trillion, or $221,400 per person. The total has more than tripled since 2000, when it was $20.4 trillion, according to Walker’s analysis. Walker said most states and many cities also have financial problems that mirror the federal government’s, with unfunded obligations for retirement and retiree health care, and outdated tax systems.

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