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Shedding Light on the Fiscal State of the Nation

Jul 13, 2016 | Budget Process

Representative Jim Renacci (R-OH) along with Representative John Carney (D-DE) and 22 other original cosponsors introduced a bipartisan Fiscal State of the Nation resolution last week. The measure would allow for the Comptroller General of the United States (the top official at the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress) to give a presentation on the nation's finances to a joint session of Congress each year. The speech would also be broadcast nationally for the public.

Upon release of the resolution, Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, stated,“The Government Accountability Office has been warning for years that our nation is on an unsustainable fiscal course. The Fiscal State of the Nation resolution would draw much needed attention to these warnings and hopefully spur Congress to take action.”

Dave Walker, former Comptroller General and current CRFB board member, echoed these sentiments, saying, "I commend Rep. Renacci for introducing this legislation. I believe it is wholly appropriate for the Comptroller General of the United States to make an annual presentation of the state of the Union's finances. This is a critically important subject and the Comptroller General is the right non-partisan professional to perform this function." 

Many of the cosponsors (now totaling 36) are members of the "Bipartisan Working Group" (BPWG). Founded by Renacci and Carney, it consists of 26 Republicans and Democrats that meet regularly with the intention of finding constructive solutions. Renacci and Carney have worked together in the past. For example, in 2015 they introduced the Budget Integrity Act, which would make several smart reforms to the budget process.

At our Fixing the Budget Process event in April, Dr. Marvin Phaup, public policy & public administration professor at The George Washington University, spoke about the need to make key information more salient to lawmakers. While not technically a reform to the budget process, this resolution would still help achieve an important goal of budget process reform. With many competing demands on lawmakers, anything that can help focus their attention on our unsustainable long-term debt would be a welcome development.

For more information on our ideas for reforming the budget process, please see our Better Budget Process Initiative.