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Next week’s State of the Union Address – should we expect financial results?

January 29, 2019

President Donald Trump will deliver a State of the Union Address next Tuesday, Feb. 5. Nancy Pelosi, who, as Speaker of the House of Representatives, “invites” the President, had earlier postponed the address amidst the partial government shutdown.

What will we learn about the state of our government’s finances during the Address?

The State of the Union isn’t the only thing delayed by the shutdown, unfortunately.

The government has also delayed the release of the annual Financial Report of the U.S. Government, given the effects of the shutdown on the financial reporting process.

This seems to imply, with the shutdown affecting “non-essential” employees, a critical safeguard for securing government financial accountability is not an essential document.

So this year, the President will be informing us about the State of the Union, as required by the Constitution -- but he won’t be doing it based on the results of an audited financial report for the last fiscal year.

How can you give a State of the Union Address without a financial report?

Sadly, this isn’t exactly a one-time thing. Four of the last five State of the Unions were delivered before, not after, the relevant recent financial report was made available.

Going forward, it would seem reasonable to request the legislative and executive branches arrange the State of the Union Address to be delivered after, and based importantly on, the audited Financial Report of the U.S. Government.

That way, we might, after more than 200 years, actually start living up to another safeguard advertised to us in our Constitution – the Statement and Account Clause.


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