“The typical American household would have paid nearly all of its income in taxes last year to balance the budget if the government used standard accounting rules to compute the deficit, a USA TODAY analysis finds. Under those accounting practices, the government ran red ink last year equal to $42,054 per household — nearly four times the official number reported under unique rules set by Congress. A U.S. household’s median income is $49,445, the Census reports.” This according to a USAToday article by Dennis Cauchon.
What you didn’t see this article? Perhaps that’s because it wasn’t the lead story. No, the winner of American Idol headlined today’s edition of the newspaper. Whether the paper reflects the interest of most Americans, I don’t know.
Nevertheless, Cauchon’s article goes on to describe how reporting rules instituted by Congress allows them to report budgeting details in a way that is prohibited for every other institution in America. For a public company or even a local municipality to report information like congress does would be criminal. Yet, congress can and must by law report in this misleading manner.
Today’s article concerns me for many reasons.
- We live in a world where those who make the rules can, at the same time, exempt themselves from the rules. Thats literally like the fox guarding the henhouse. Congress writes laws that they believe are in the best interest of the citizenry. Yet when they find that the same laws place undue burdens on themselves or will reflect poorly on their effectiveness, they write exemptions into the law. That’s wrong.
- The national deficit, not the total debt that our nation has accumulated over the years but the deficit from last year alone, is four times what we thought it was. That’s staggering. If the tax rate was 100%, we could just barely make ends meet as a country. How do we have a government that runs in the red that much? For every household to have to pay 100% of its earnings to keep the country out of debt. That’s crazy.
- The real federal debt, as calculated by standard accounting practices, equals $561,254 per household. That’s right. To get America out of debt today, you would have to pay over 1/2 million dollars. And so would every house on your street, or every apartment in your building. Every household in America owes over 1/2 million to get our nation out of debt.
- Sadly, more people are interested in the winner of American Idol than care about our nation’s financial predicament. This is evidenced by the prominence of the placement given to each story in USAToday. Of course, that may not be the case. Perhaps the paper has an agenda and they want to distract us from the truth? Perhaps. But that’s not comforting either.
I understand that there are times when a government must occasionally run a deficit. But the key word is occasionally. That should not be the case year in and year out. And they certainly should report it as everyone else does.
So, is it just me? Or is our country out of control? What do you think?