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Revealed: US comptroller says US taxes would have to double to pay for Bush budget in 2040

Michael Roston
Published: Monday January 15, 2007
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In an overlooked hearing last Thursday, the head of a government watchdog agency warned of looming disaster for America's economy if an effort isn't made to control spending, RAW STORY has learned. Adding that decision-makers in Washington suffer from "tunnel vision and "myopia," he said that getting the budget under control could even require steep tax increases if action isn't taken now.

"The picture I will lay out for you today is not a pretty one and itís getting worse with the passage of time," said David M. Walker, Comptroller General of the United States, in a Thursday morning hearing of the Senate's Budget Committee. "Continuing on our current fiscal path would gradually erode, if not suddenly damage, our economy, our standard of living, and ultimately even our domestic tranquility and our national security," he warned.

Walker heads the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the independent, nonpartisan watchdog of Congress that evaluates the spending of American tax dollars and advises Congress on improving government programs.

While he acknowledged the single-year fiscal improvement touted by the Bush administration for 2006, he said that "it did not fundamentally change our long-term fiscal outlook." He also noted that since 2000, America's net social insurance commitments and other fiscal obligations have increased to $50 trillion from $20 trillion, representing four times the nation's total economic output. Rising national health care costs are the greatest culprit according to data collected by Walker's agency.

The head of the GAO also warned that if no action is taken now to control government spending, severe tax hikes could be necessary. He stated that, "balancing the budget in 2040 could require actions as large as cutting total federal spending by 60 percent or raising federal taxes to 2 times todayís level."

Reuters, the only major news agency to offer coverage of Thursday's hearing, said that Walker saw the need for greater tax hikes in the interim, too. A Thursday evening dispatch reported, "Asked what level U.S. taxes revenues should be at, Walker said, "I can't tell you an exact number ... but more than 18.2 percent (of GDP), but below 25 percent.""

During the course of the hearing, senators also asked Walker about the cost estimates presented by President George W. Bush for sending 21,500 more troops to Iraq this year, according to Air Force Times. Walker believed that the amount of money planned to be spent on the troop escalation was much more than needed for the number of troops involved. "I have some serious concerns about the numbers...It is unclear what much of the $5.6 billion is to be spent on," they reported him saying.

Walker's full statement can be accessed at the GAO website.