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U.S. News and Commentary



Wednesday
Mar062013

Sequester theatrics should take back seat to alarms raised in GAO report

Commentary by Kay B. Day

Report: U.S. Government/GAOAt the moment, President Barack Obama’s administration is focused on sequester theatrics, scheduling for release thousands of detainees from Immigrations and Customs facilities, and canceling White House tours.

Instead of working to make sure cuts were practical, Obama held out for another tax hike.

The theatrics played out between the president and Congress recently, while a key report with alarming findings is being ignored.

Ironically, gross federal revenues are expected to reach an all-time high, according to projections from the Congressional Budget Office. Reason magazine asked if $2.7 trillion in revenue might have “something to do with the laconic pace of economic recovery.”

That record revenue haul was downplayed by some on the Left who asserted it’s all about revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product that counts. Normal people know it’s the revenue and how you spend it that counts.

Normal people. Like Bill in Florida who already got news of a furlough from his federal employer. It will cost him $6,000 and it didn’t have to.

While legacy media pump the sequester most Americans are ignoring despite high drama, the issue we should have been talking about dates to January, 2013 when the Government Accountability Office issued an alarming report. You’ve probably already heard about the more than $108 billion in improper payments, but there’s far more to the report than that.

We don’t know where our federal dollars are going and we have planned miserably for what might go out or come in in the future.

Most Americans don’t jump all over financial reports for government. It’s time we did. Here’s an excerpt from that report and it should alarm you far more than White House tours canceled and possibly dangerous criminals released for political purposes and Democrats being refused another tax hike.

I’ve bolded key parts in case you can’t make it through the government-ese.

GAO found the following:

─Certain material weaknesses in internal control over financial reporting and other limitations on the scope of its work resulted in conditions that prevented GAO from expressing an opinion on the fiscal years 2012 and 2011 accrual-based consolidated financial statements. About 34 percent of the federal government’s reported total assets as of September 30, 2012, and approximately 21 percent of the federal government’s reported net cost for fiscal year 2012 relate to the Department of Defense (DOD), which received a disclaimer of opinion on its consolidated financial statements.

─Because of significant uncertainties, primarily related to the achievement of projected reductions in Medicare cost growth reflected in the 2012, 2011, and 2010 Statements of Social Insurance, GAO was unable to express opinions on the 2012, 2011, and 2010 Statements of Social Insurance, as well as on the 2012 and 2011 Statements of Changes in Social Insurance Amounts. About $27.2 trillion, or 70.5 percent, of the reported total present value of future expenditures in excess of future revenue presented in the 2012 Statement of Social Insurance relates to Medicare programs reported in the Department of Health and Human Services’ 2012 Statement of Social Insurance, which received a disclaimer of opinion.

  ─Material weaknesses resulted in ineffective internal control over financial reporting for fiscal year 2012.

  ─GAO’s tests of compliance with selected provisions of laws and regulations for fiscal year 2012 were limited by the material weaknesses and other scope limitations discussed in the report.

Bottom line: The government doesn’t know where all the taxpayers’ money went and hasn’t resolved Medicare issues despite a pending increase in the Medicare population. Fiscal year 2012 was a blur when it came to financial reporting, and GAO couldn’t even determine if the government is complying with its own laws.

Democrats are demanding more tax hikes on top of the roughly 20 tax hikes they’ve already levied.  Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration just spent $50 million taxpayer bucks on new uniforms.

If any of us did our jobs as lousy as the federal government, we’d be applying for unemployment tomorrow. Just imagine not being able to account for money your boss put you in charge of, and when he asked you where it went, you just said, “Give me more.”

The full GAO report suggests our federal house is in dire need of reform. Consider this:

The federal government reported a net operating cost of about $1.3 trillion and a unified budget deficit of approximately $1.1 trillion for fiscal year 2012, and as of September 30, 2012, debt held by the public had increased to 73 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

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