There outta be a law against ignoring promised spending, and there are. Several. From Sarbanes-Oxley to Dodd-Frank, lawmakers have spent plenty of time and years of effort attempting to tell people how they may run their businesses. It’s just that the laws don’t apply to the government. “People sometimes joke: ‘If I ran my business like the government does, I’d be in jail.’ The thing is, that’s not a joke: Businesses are expected to account for their liabilities,” Kevin Williamson writes at NRO. “Lying about your liabilities is a crime. You can go to jail for that. Government at every level lies about liabilities, from the halls of power in Washington to third-rate burgs such as Stockton and San Bernardino.”
And it’s taxpayers who are on the hook, because all these spending promises have been made in our names. If you distrust a company’s books, don’t buy its stock. But Uncle Sam’s books are all of our responsibility, whether we approve or not.
When Gordon wrote his book back in 1997, he recommended that the government set up an independent accounting board to keep the federal books honestly and without political spin. “There can be no serious reform of the federal budget process until control over the books is taken away from politicians,” he wrote.
That hasn’t happened, and the problem of over-promising and over-spending has only grown worse in the 15 years since.
As Mattel found out, math may be tough, but it’s also unavoidable. Our country’s bills will come due, during our lifetimes and our children’s’ lifetimes. Let’s keep that in mind and demand real cuts, while there’s still time.