http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20060803/1a_coverart03.art_dom.htm The federal government keeps two sets of books. The set the government promotes to the public has a healthier bottom line: a $318 billion deficit in 2005. The set the government doesn't talk about is the audited financial statement produced by the government's accountants following standard accounting rules. It reports a more ominous financial picture: a $760 billion deficit for 2005. If Social Security and Medicare were included â as the board that sets accounting rules is considering â the federal deficit would have been $3.5 trillion. Congress has written its own accounting rules â which would be illegal for a corporation to use because they ignore important costs such as the growing expense of retirement benefits for civil servants and military personnel. Last year, the audited statement produced by the accountants said the government ran a deficit equal to $6,700 for every American household. The number given to the public put the deficit at $2,800 per household. A growing number of Congress members and accounting experts say it's time for Congress to start using the audited financial statement when it makes budget decisions. They say accurate accounting would force Congress to show more restraint before approving popular measures to boost spending or cut taxes. âWe're a bottom-line culture, and we've been hiding the bottom line from the American people,â says Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., a former investment banker. âIt's not fair to them, and it's delusional on our part.â This is just an excerpt. ET says the actual article is too long to post in its entirety.