The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) is encouraging all CPAs to use the federal government’s financial statements as a tool to illustrate the danger budget deficits pose to our nation’s economic future.
“What’s At Stake: The CPA Profession’s Views on the Federal Financial Picture,” a video produced to remind practitioners and policymakers of the debt danger, premiered at the spring meeting of the AICPA’s Governing Council in New Orleans, La.
The four-minute video, the latest in a series of productions, is narrated by Greg Anton, CPA, CGMA. Anton is a past chairman of the AICPA board of directors, current chairman of the National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, and founder of the “What’s at Stake” initiative.
Developed in 2012, the non-partisan “What’s at Stake” effort promotes the use of the federal government’s financial statements to provide a holistic look at the country’s financial status. The latest financial statements, for the year ended September 30, 2015, show that the nation’s accumulated deficit rose to $18.2 trillion – an increase of $520 billion from the year prior. This does not include $58 trillion in Social Security and Medicare, future obligations which are footnote disclosures and not reflected as liabilities or in the accumulated deficit.
In the video, Anton observes that the federal budget deficit is expected to increase to $544 billion in fiscal year 2016, the first rise since 2009. “Deficit watchers, including the Congressional Budget Office, warn that if current laws remain unchanged, the budget deficit will grow by $9.4 trillion in the next decade. By 2026, it could be considerably larger than its average over the past 50 years,” he reports.
The Citizen’s Guide to the Financial Report of the U.S. Government notes that the government’s debt-to-GDP ratio will remain relatively flat over the next decade. But after ten years, a continuous rise will commence if current policy is kept in place. The Report concludes that, “This trend implies that current policy is not sustainable.”
Explaining the importance of candidates addressing the federal debt in a substantive way, Anton is encouraging CPAs to reach out to elected officials and candidates for federal office and raise concerns about the danger high deficits pose to our country’s economic future. “Try to raise candidates’ attention of the true financial picture we are facing using the government’s 2015 financial report. Offer your assistance in helping them and others understand our nation’s financial circumstances – and its consequences.”