By Alex Vuchnich, CPA, CFE -
I thought with our new administration we might begin to see some real change in Washington, but based on the most recent economic stimulus package it appears to be more of the status quo. Have we really gone from a $750 billion dollar bailout to an additional $1.1 trillion (final stimulus package was negotiated down to $789 billion, not much of a consolation) in just a few months? Although, many of us in the accounting profession probably shy away from mixing politics with our professional careers I think we have an obligation to educate our communities about government spending in much the same vein as educating our communities on personal financial literacy. Most individuals without a finance and accounting background fail to understand the magnitude of the numbers involved when it comes to Federal spending or the long term ramifications. How many Americans are aware of the $93 trillion contingent liability for social security and medicare benefits and what that means to the fiscal solvency of our nation 30 years from? How about the fact that the GAO has issued a disclaimer on the consolidated financial statements of the US Federal Government for 11 consecutive years? It was important enough to former Comptroller General, David Walker, to devote his time to a grassroots educational campaign on just this subject. What this comes down to is a need for not just for transparency but for more education for the members of our communities so they can hold government responsible. Maybe we as a profession need to take a cue from Mr. Walker and follow in his example.