Congress Hides Interest Expense to Disguise Program Costs

It should come as no surprise to Americans that the federal government goes to great lengths to disguise and cloak the amount of taxpayer money it goes through in funding the never-ending cycle of new government programs.

The Washington Free Beacon published an article on Wednesday detailing some accounting sleight-of-hand used by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to understate the cost of new federal programs.

Interest on the national debt cost taxpayers more than $300 billion last year alone. The interest expense on the debt only grows each year as current deficit spending funded by borrowing steamrolls ahead unabated.

Further, current interest payments are based on the artificially low rates kept in place by the Federal Reserve. If skyrocketing inflation leads to higher rates, the interest payment on the national debt will shoot even further out of sight.

However, the CBO does not take the massive payments in interest on the federal debt into consideration when calculating the cost of proposed new federal spending programs. That leads to massive underestimation of those costs.

Even at current interest rates, the annual interest on the national debt is expected to reach nearly $1 trillion in a decade. Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX) is leading a group of over 40 Republican lawmakers in demanding that CBO include interest costs in future budget estimates for proposed programs.

A letter from the lawmakers pointed out the fact that currently high inflation is likely to lead to higher interest rates, which will in turn accelerate the relative cost of interest expense in the federal budget. The GOP lawmakers argue that ignoring that cost leads Congress to make decisions affecting future obligations that the public is less likely to understand.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) told the Free Beacon that it is not possible for Congress to ever get spending and inflation under control if budgets do not accurately indicate bottom line costs. He said that the cost of interest will surely grow “along with Biden’s disastrous inflation.”

Joe Biden repeatedly claimed last year that the $2 trillion American Rescue Plan would not contribute to inflation. However, a study published last month by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco found that the spending bonanza has already contributed to a 3 percent increase in consumer price inflation.