Perhaps the chief obstacle to fixing America's finances is that no one agrees what’s really on our balance sheet. When leaders in Washington debate our budget, they routinely use different baselines, projections and assumptions, which often conveniently support whatever policy they are pushing at the moment. To quote an old Scottish writer, many Washington leaders “use statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts—for support rather than for illumination.”
The American people deserve to know what’s really happening with our nation’s finances, and Congress should be able to work off the same set of numbers. That’s why every year, a nonpartisan leader, such as the Comptroller General, should deliver a televised fiscal update in-person to a joint session of Congress. The president, vice president, all cabinet members, senators and members of Congress must attend this fiscal update session. They must take individual responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of the fiscal report by signing it, just as CEOs are required to affirm the accuracy of their company’s financial reporting.