The financial sky is still falling. Time for CPAs to join the fight

Forget Syria, and Obamacare, and the debt ceiling, and Miley Cyrus. You want to hear something really scary?

David Walker is closing one of his doomsday shops.

The former U.S. comptroller general has spent the past several years telling anyone who will listen that America is headed for financial ruin. Walker has warned us time and again that nearly $70 trillion in unfunded obligations for programs like Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security will send the country over the fiscal brink unless drastic steps are taken now. The fiscal chaos of the past five years will seem like a stroll in the park by comparison.

Now, though, comes word from the Journal of Accountancy that Walker is shuttering his Comeback America organization. The group has released its final report on the nation's financial woes, and Walker is planning to close shop "to keep a long-standing commitment to his wife, Mary, to spend more time with his family," the JofA's Ken Tysiac reports.

Walker has vowed to continue his individual fight for greater fiscal responsibility from our government leaders.

Still, his decision to shutter Comeback America means there'll be one less voice crying out for fiscal sanity. It's also a stark reminder that this is not a one-man job. It will take a throng of concerned citizens, working together, to help right the nation's fiscal ship.

It will take, perhaps, an entire profession.

Feel up to the challenge, CPAs?

"A critical aspect of this leadership must be a major effort to educate and engage the American public on the true state of our nation's finances and the types of reforms that will be necessary to ensure fiscal sustainability," Walker wrote recently in USA Today. "… This effort is so essential because it will take the public's understanding of what's at stake to rally popular support for difficult choices. Without the public's understanding, buy-in and pressure, our politicians will continue to kowtow to the most partisan wings of each party and the special interests."

Who better to provide that education than CPAs?

"CPAs have a tremendous opportunity – I would argue even an obligation – to be play a role here," Walker told me as part of an MACPA podcast. "They are knowledgeable about financial matters. They are respected and credible among the public. They need to keep in mind that the 'P' in 'CPA' stands for public, protecting the public interest. They can play a role in telling the truth to citizens in their communities, their states, and our country about where we really are, about the need to make tough choices sooner rather than later and the consequences if we don't, and to make sure the numbers are out there in a truthful and transparent manner. I think they have a very important role to play and I hope my fellow CPAs will take up the challenge."

Somebody has to pick up Walker's mantle. Will it be you?

While you're thinking, check out these related resources:


Bill Sheridan