What’s at Stake? A CPA’s Insights into the Federal Government’s Finances
The CPA profession is committed to helping the public understand complex financial issues.
The non-partisan video, What’s at Stake? A CPA’s Insights into the Federal Government’s
Finances, offers guidance on how the data in the U.S. government’s financial statements
can be used for greater understanding of the fiscal health of the country.
The profession encourages all policy makers to use the important information that the
financial statements contain to work towards setting sustainable fiscal policy for the US.
The profession calls on both policymakers and the public to engage in a national dialogue to
improve the country’s fiscal health.
More information and related resources can be found at aicpa.org/WhatsAtStake.
Why US government’s financial statements are important
The US government's financial statements provide a different perspective into the fiscal
health of our country compared to the budget.
The budget shows what is bought and paid for in a given year, while the financial statements
show what the government is committed to purchasing, whether it is covered by the budget
or whether it will require borrowed funds.
Typically obligations or liabilities are shown on the face of financial statements. This isn’t
true with Social Security and Medicare. These are footnote disclosures and are not
reflected as liabilities on the face of the balance sheet.
Providing insight into the country’s deficits
In fiscal year 2011, the US government had a net accumulated deficit of $14.8 trillion.
This $14.8 trillion cumulative deficit plus social insurance obligations of $46.3 trillion equals
a $61 trillion total deficit for the US government.
The household net worth of all US citizens combined was $58.5 trillion at the end of 2011.
The total obligations of the US government—$61 trillion—exceed the net worth of all of its