Carper Subcommittee Explores Future of U.S. Finances, Financial Reporting

WASHINGTON – To better understand some of the major funding shortfalls that will face the United States government in the coming years, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information and International Security, called today’s hearing, titled “In the Red: How to Address the Nation’s Financial Challenges.”

The recently released federal financial statements, much like in years past, are in such bad shape that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) cannot perform a necessary audit of the federal government’s finances, Sen. Carper said in opening his subcommittee hearing this afternoon.

“We can’t exercise effective oversight over federal programs when we can’t even be sure where all of our money is going or what the true financial impact is of the decisions we make here in Washington,” Sen. Carper said. “Today’s hearing is the first of many steps Congress must take to restore transparency and fiscal discipline to the federal government, making it more efficient and effective for the American tax payer. We must start some serious discussion about how those of us here in Washington, elected to represent the people, can set better priorities and begin to right our financial ship.”

Over the next 75 years, the nation’s public debt, government pensions and entitlement programs will nearly triple to $52.7 trillion – a dramatic 158 percent increase – according to GAO.

Within in the next 40 years alone, absent significant changes in spending or revenues, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid alone will equal the funding of the entire federal budget today, potentially eating up the funds needed to invest in other national priorities, such as education, energy and defense.

Sen. Carper asked several of today’s witnesses, including former Comptroller General of the United States David Walker, why the federal government cannot get reliable information on where taxpayer money is being spent, and why there is no good measure of the social and financial consequences of the government’s consistently poor financial management.

“While the federal government’s repeated failings in the basics of financial management haven’t received the media attention that the failings of some private sector companies have received, I think the state of our nation’s finances can easily be viewed as a scandal,” said Sen. Carper. “We must start taking serious action to prevent more long-term harm to our nation’s financial health and that of its citizens.”