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April 15: Time to Pay on the Most Expensive Credit Card in the World

By now you probably filed your tax return for 2013 and made your final payment on the balance due. What you probably didn't realize, however, is that you only paid the current balance. That may not surprise you, because the U.S. government does not bill you for any part of the annual deficit or accumulated national debt. It leaves that for your children and grandchildren. How does government get away with it? It doesn't bill you for the real cost of government now, thereby pushing our annual accumulated excess spending on tomorrow's taxpayers-your kids-in a perennial display of "congressional child abuse."

Now, as a CPA, former congressman and concerned citizen, I want you to know the real cost of government, and so I have enclosed your U.S. Taxpayer Personal Credit Card Statement. Now this may surprise you, because the U.S. government does not keep track of its finances and report to taxpayers the way American Express, MasterCard, or VISA do. It should, but it doesn't. And, if a private credit card firm allowed its users to do what Congress does, it would go belly up in a hurry. Unfortunately, Congress has some special privileges that allow it to engage in business as usual year after year.

The Statement covers our federal government's fiscal year ending September 30, 2013. Note that there was a large previous balance on your account. This is your share of Congress' past spending which was covered by borrowing in your name, not by revenues!

Then you 'll see listed a number of items that your elected Representatives bought on your behalf during the past year, things like social security, defense, health, and so on. Your share of these expenditures was $24,898.

But you did make some payments during the year, through your income taxes, payroll taxes, and other taxes and fees. These payments reduced your balance by $20,808. But this is, unfortunately, less than your new spending, resulting in another annual deficit which adds to the national debt.

Finally, I need to remind you that even Uncle Sam does not have the ability to borrow other people 's money interest free. So, you have to pay a finance charge on his borrowings, amounting to $2,922. This is your share of the interest on our national debt. Adding this gives you a new balance due of $520,975, an increase of $7,012 over your balance due at the beginning of the year. This is certainly an unfortunate trend and, in an attempt to balance the budget, Congress will be asking you to make larger and larger payments in future years.

I know that you think you did not in fact authorize someone to use such a credit card in your name last year. But let me explain that there is in fact a credit card being used here-literally a little plastic computer-friendly congressional voting card that increases public spending and taxing. Your Representative has this card and you gave it to him or her when elected. I myself had one for four years when I served in the House of Representatives and many times referred to it on the floor of Congress as "the most expensive credit card in the world."

When your own credit card company notices that you have reached your credit card limit, it lets you know that you are at the end of the line. Not so with the Congress! The plastic card your Representative uses to vote on spending and taxing has no effective limit.

There is, however, a theoretical limit. It's called the debt ceiling. But the amazing thing about the congressional voting card is that it can be used to raise the limit! Every time Congress' deficit spending runs up against the current debt limit-now over $17 trillion-a majority of the Members of Congress simply insert their plastic voting cards into a computer terminal at the end of each row of seats on the floor of the House and, with Senate and President concurring, the limit is conveniently increased. (I don't think your private credit card company is planning to introduce this feature.) Congress' misuse of this voting card makes it possible for them to keep passing the buck, really the credit card bill, onto the next generation.

I know you are dismayed that somebody else is using "the most expensive credit card in the world" to run up a bill that you and your children must pay for. But if you want to do something about it, you might resolve to take "the most expensive credit card in the world " away from those Members of Congress who continue to abuse it. After the 2014 election, some Representatives will be replaced and required to turn in their voting cards. This may help to make next year's national credit card statement a little better than that of last year. But, it will take many more elections to eliminate our perennial annual budget deficits so that we can begin to pay back the balance we already owe. Personally, I think moving Election Day to April 15 is an excellent idea for starters.

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