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Rep. Norman Sponsors the Fair-Value Accounting and Budget Act

On Tuesday, Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) introduced the Fair-Value Accounting and Budget Act. The objective of this bill is to provide Congress with more oversight and information pertaining to market risk in federal lending policies.

Background Information

Between student loans and home ownership, the federal government provides various types of direct loans or loan guarantees to individuals and businesses. However, when it comes to making budget assessments in federal loan legislation, Congress does not currently use accounting guidelines that reflect the true value (i.e. net impact) of loan defaults. A supplemental assessment method, called fair-value accounting, is a tool that can be used by legislators to calculate a broader measure of an asset’s worth that would consider such risks.

In the projections of the lifetime costs of new loan guarantees under such programs in 2020, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that the subsidy rate is on average 5% higher when using fair value accounting methods than when using the current method of accounting as required under the Federal Credit Reform act (FCRA). 

Rep. Norman's Fair-Value Accounting and Budget Act aims to take the real cost to taxpayers into consideration by providing Congress with more oversight and information to account for market risk in federal lending policies. Without a supplemental fair-value accounting method, legislators have a false sense of deficit reduction which will continue to lead to dangerous budget confusion and irresponsible reckless spending. 

The Fair-Value Accounting and Budget Act includes several provisions related to fair-value accounting:

(1) It would allow the Chair or Ranking Member of the House and Senate Budget Committees to request a supplemental fair-value estimate for any legislation that establishes or makes changes to loan or loan guarantee programs;

(2) It requires CBO to include fair-value estimates in it’s Budget and Economic Outlook;

(3) It would provide the option for Congress to use fair-value estimates to determine budget compliance and enforcement; and

(4) It requires OMB to provide an annual report on fair-value estimates and the costs of federal credit programs.

This legislation has the support of Heritage Action, Club for Growth, FreedomWords. The National Taxpayers Union also supports this legislation, and issued this letter to Rep. Norman on Tuesday.

Rep. Norman issued the following statement on Tuesday: "Supplementing fair-value accounting assessments and improving access to information on fair-value estimates, as the bill sets out to achieve, will improve transparency in the real liabilities accrued overtime for today’s taxpayers and the future generation of Americans."