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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Why Does Uncle Sam Keep Two Sets of Books?

Check out this quote from a Democrat in the House of Representatives:

"We're a bottom-line culture, and we've been hiding the bottom line from the American people," says Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., a former investment banker. "It's not fair to them, and it's delusional on our part."

Cooper is referring to the fact the federal government maintains two sets of budget books, one for public consumption - let's call it Rosy Scenario - and the other for government eyes only, which we will call The Rampaging Elephant in the Living Room.

In an example of the sort of aggressive reporting that is too rare in the mainstream media's approach to covering Big Government, USA Today's Dennis Cauchon has a superb front page piece highlighting Washington's two sets of financial books. This is essential reading for anybody who seeks to understand government finances.

Cooper and many other commentators on budget and spending issues approach these matters from the financial perspective, but there is another aspect that is even more important - when the public's right to know what our government is doing with our tax dollars is respected, it becomes vastly more difficult for officials to do things like keeping two sets of books.

This USA Today story also illustrates yet more evidence for the belief that Coburn-Obama - the Senate bill establishing a public Internet database of federal spending - is quite possibly the most significant legislation the current Congress will consider.

Go here to read the full USA Today story. Then send Cauchon a thank you note for doing this kind of reporting about Big Government. His email should be dcauchon@usatoday.com.