Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced a bill to promote transparency and accountability at the Department of Treasury regarding federal debt management, especially when breach of the statutory debt limit is impending.
“The American people, whose hard-earned tax dollars will inevitably pay off the recent explosion of federal debt, deserve accountability and transparency,” Hatch said. “This is smart legislation designed to replace an opaque and chaotic debt management process with a transparent and consistent system, and provide Congress with the tools it needs to deal with our exploding debt head-on, before it is too late.”
Specifically, S. 3182, the Debt Management and Fiscal Responsibility Act requires the Treasury Department to produce a comprehensive assessment of the national debt and its causes, provide debt reduction proposals, and appear before Congress prior to reaching the statutory debt limit. The bill also requires that basic fiscal information, including contingency plans for debt-related emergencies, be made available to the public and Congress.
Greater transparency over debt management is essential, given that the national debt is currently close to $19.4 trillion, and has increased by more than $8.7 trillion since President Obama took office.
Over the past five years, Hatch has repeatedly pressed the administration to release information regarding contingency plans formulated by Treasury, the Federal Reserve and other agencies to gain a better understanding of what steps would be taken in the event of delayed payments, a default, or credit-rating downgrade.
Following the introduction of the bill, Hatch sent letters to Treasury and the Federal Reserve to again seek basic information about debt management practices of the federal government.
Signed copies of the letters to Treasury and the Federal Reserve can be found here, here and here.
Additional background for the bill can be found here.