Former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker has been actively spreading the word for years about the dangers of the nation’s out-of-control budget deficit and national debt.
Those views are finally getting taken seriously in Washington, with Republicans and Democrats in Congress and the Obama administration issuing their own plans for cutting the deficit, building on the proposals of various deficit commissions and think tanks. Walker delivered a speech Thursday at the American Institute of CPAs’ Spring Meeting of Council in Washington, a day after former Senator Alan Simpson, who co-chaired the Simpson-Bowles Commission, gave a humorous talk to AICPA Council members at an evening reception.
Walker’s speech was far more serious in tone. “I’m still an active CPA and I’m proud to be a CPA,” he said. “How you keep score matters. We have a responsibility to lead the fight for truth.”
He urged CPAs in the audience to take up the struggle to persuade the government to control the deficit. “The decisions that fail to be made by elected officials within the next three to five years will largely determine whether our collective future is better than our past,” he said. “We are approaching a tipping point. Some states and localities have passed the tipping point.”
Walker is leading what he calls the Comeback America Initiative at www.keepingamericagreat.org. “In the last few years we have strayed from some of our values that made us great in the past: limited and effective government, personal responsibility and accountability, fiscal responsibility and equity, stewardship.”
He worries about the integrity of the Social Security Trust Funds, quipping, “By the way you can’t trust them, they’re not funded.” He said the country has a progressive tax system, even though the progressivity is subject to debate. Warren Buffett’s effective tax rate is less than his, but over 40 percent of taxpayers pay no federal income taxes.
“We need tax reform, and we need to get rid of a lot of the exclusions,” he said. “We need to determine at what level someone should not be paying federal income tax. We need to get more people with skin in the game. We need to lower the corporate tax rate, and eliminate double taxation. We are a great country, but we face great challenges. As CPAs, we have to use our core values of integrity and objectivity. If you’re waiting on Congress to move, you might as well move."