Missing money

To the Editor:

The country is in controversy over where the money is going to come from to pay for the “tax reform” plan. Paul Ryan has everyone up in arms over threats to the social safety net. We need a trillion dollars from somewhere. But wait. That’s just chicken feed.

Chicken feed? Well, what would you call it, if you were to discover that between 1998 and 2015 just two branches of the Federal Executive — Housing and Urban Development, and Defense — had taken in and expended $21 trillion dollars for which no documentation exists?

Last year, Michigan State University public finance professor Mark Skidmore learned of a 2016 Office of Inspector General report claiming that in fiscal year 2015 the Army had $6.5 trillion in “unsupported journal voucher adjustments.” For reference, the army’s annual budget is $122 billion.

“Journal vouchers” are accounting adjustments made when balances between accounting systems can’t be reconciled, and they’re “unsupported” when there’s no documentation for where the money came from and/or how it was spent.

Skidmore simply couldn’t believe this, so he and several of his graduate students went through government financial data in detail. Between 1998 and 2015, they found $21 trillion of such adjustments in just HUD and DoD, $11.5 trillion of which involved the Army.

Yes, the Army — an entity so “hollowed out” that Congress dumps more money on it than it asks for.

Skidmore and his students downloaded the reports and, with the relevant pages highlighted, put them up on the website solari.com, where he invites accountants to look them over.

Meanwhile, we’re being stampeded with worry about “mere” billions being taken from all the safety net services that are keeping this country afloat – because there’s no money. Something is very rotten. And not in Denmark.

Dick Atlee

Southwest Harbor

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