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Budget and Accounting Transparency Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Madam Chair, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I want to begin by thanking my colleagues who helped pass the Pro-Growth Budgeting Act and the Baseline Reform Act in the House last week. Today, we are here to continue that work, focused on changing Washington's culture of spending and ensuring policymakers serve as responsible stewards of hardworking American tax dollars.

I stand in strong support of the Budget and Accounting Transparency Act offered by the vice chairman of the Budget Committee, Congressman Scott Garrett of New Jersey.

While it's well known that Washington has a spending problem, it is less well known that Washington isn't being fully honest about how much it is spending. This bill would increase transparency and accuracy in budgeting for Federal credit programs, the housing-related government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the publication of budget justification materials.

First, it would require fair-value accounting, which recognizes the market risks that the government is incurring by issuing a loan or a loan guarantee for all Federal programs that make loan or loan guarantees. Market risk is already accounted for in several government programs like TARP and GSEs, and it's a very common practice in the private sector.

Second, this bill would bring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on budget. These enterprises rack up billions in liabilities hidden from the public income tax payers. Last June, the CBO testified that it puts the total cost of the mortgage commitments made by these two entities at $291 billion and that that cost would ultimately rise even higher.

Third, this bill increases transparency for information contained in agency budget requests by requiring that they be made public on the Internet at the same time as they are provided to Congress. Government agencies have an obligation to taxpayers to justify every dollar spent in Washington.

Madam Chair, no budget process reform can substitute for political will when it comes to tackling our greatest fiscal and economic challenges. Getting America back on track will require a Senate and a President willing to get serious about the structural drivers of the debt and the continued impediments we have to economic growth. But being honest about the size and scope of our challenges, as this reform calls for, offers us a concrete step in the right direction.

At this time, Madam Chair, I would like to yield the remainder of our time for the purposes of managing the bill to the author of this bill, Mr. Garrett, the vice chairman of the Budget Committee.

With that, we will reserve the balance of our time.

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