By the Numbers
By Doug Edelman
May 30, 2011
Pundits, wonks, politicos and analysts will often toss around a lot of numerical data in making their points or providing their analysis… but they often cite the raw data without realizing that the vast bulk of their audience does not comprehend the numbers and their eyes glaze over. They’re just now starting to grasp the difference between millions and billions, and they haven’t yet inculcated the concept of a trillion into their collective consciousness!
As a public service, I will distill some of the current numerical dialogue into terms that the average citizen should be well able to comprehend and analyze its impact.
Let’s begin with the basics. A million is 1000 thousand. A million dollars will buy between 5 and 8 typical family homes. A million dollars represents about 20 years of earnings for the average family. A million dollars is 10,000 $100 bills. A million dollars will fit into a briefcase.
A billion is 1000 million. A billion dollars in $100 bills would take up 12 shipping pallets stacked 7 feet high. If we round off the population of the USA to 250 Million people, then you would have to take $4 from every man, woman and child to make one Billion dollars. Remember that fact as we will use it in our discussion.
A trillion is 1000 billion. That means a trillion is one million million. Imagine 12,000 shipping pallets stacked 7 feet high with $100 bills. Imagine a 200 car railroad train loaded to capacity with $100 bills! You’d have to take $4000 from every man, woman and child to make a trillion.
Remember, whenever government talks about a billion dollars, think $4 to you. When they talk about a trillion, think about $4000 of your own money.
So now, let’s do some analysis.
Remember Bush’s $87 billion request for the military to run 2 wars? The one Kerry voted for before voting against it? That would have cost you $348 (at $4 per billion as discussed above.)
How about the awful Bush deficits that made him the “worst president ever?”
The worst deficit that Bush had with a GOP Congress was in 2003 after 9/11, 2 wars and the dot.com bubble burst. It was around $420 billion dollars. $1,680 cost to you.
The 2003 tax cuts did what tax cuts always do, they increased revenues, and the deficit was reduced each of the following years so that by the time power shifted to the Pelosi/Reid congress in January 2007, the deficit had been reduced to under $120 Billion – or $360 to you.
How about the National Debt?
Bush took office with the National Debt of $4 trillion. That’s $16,000 debt for you.
In his first 6 years, he added 2 Trillion to the national debt and was harshly and rightly criticized for increasing our debt by 50% in 6 years. This brought our debt to $6 trillion, or $24,000 to you.
Pelosi and Reid took the reins of Congress. In 2 years the 110th congress added $3 trillion to the debt. That increased the debt by another 50% in just 2 years. That increased your share by another $12,000. Bush took 6 years to add $2 trillion with a GOP Congress, but with a Democrat congress they added $3 trillion in 2 years.
Then we elected Barack Obama.
In the first two years of the Obama Administration, the Pelosi-Reid 111th Congress added 5 TRILLION DOLLARS to the debt. They borrowed more in 2 years than ALL 42 presidents before Bush combined! They increased the debt more in 2 years than was accumulated in the first 224 years of the United States!
That $5 Trillion increase brought our debt to $14 Trillion. That’s $56,000 of debt for every man, woman and child in the USA. If you thought things were bad in 2006 when we turned control over to the Democrats, realize that your share of the National debt has, in 4 short years, gone from $24,000 to $56,000! Is this helping you to put it all into perspective? Are you recognizing the impact that four years of Democrat dominance of Congress, and two years of a Democrat congress and presidency has had on you personally?
Back to deficits for a moment.
Remember that Bush’s WORST deficit with a GOP congress was $420 billion, and that was reduced to $120 billion by the time Pelosi/Reid took power. In their first year at the helm of congress, they more than tripled the previous year’s deficit to $450 billion. That was the best they did in the four years they had both houses of Congress. And it was $30 billion worse than Bush’s WORST deficit in his first 6 years.
But they were just getting started.
Remember that Bush’s $120 billion deficit in 2006 represented a cost to you of $360.
In their second year, Pelosi-Reid tripled their first year’s deficit, and brought our deficit over the unheard of TRILLION dollar mark. The deficit that year was actually $1.2 Trillion, or $4,800 to you. That’s right, in 2 years they brought your personal share of the annual deficit from $360 to $4,800.
This year, the deficit is $1.7 Trillion, or $6,800 to you. They are deficit spending almost $7,000 for every person in the country. That means that after they spend every dollar that they actually collect in taxes, they keep spending, and borrowing at that level.
Now think back to the budget debate.
Our budget is around $3.5 Trillion a year ($14,000 for each of us). “Discretionary Spending” represents about $1.3 trillion. (That’s about $5,200 to you). That includes our military, and the non-entitlement departments, agencies, bureaus and programs. The remainder ($2.2 Trillion) represents our entitlement transfers of wealth, and interest on the debt. So the government spends $8,800 a year for each one of us, taking from Peter who works, to pay Paul who doesn’t – and to pay the interest on financing the whole scheme!
And yet, the Senate Democrats can’t even agree to cut the 3.5 trillion dollar budget by $100 Billion. They couldn’t bring themselves to reduce your deficit share of $6800 by a lousy $400.
So, now when you hear democrats saying Bush and the GOP are worse than Obama and the Democrats, you can share this information. When they tell you our hardships today were inherited from Bush, you can share this information. And when the politicos and wonks throw numbers around, you can translate them into numbers that make sense. Just remember $4 per billion, $4,000 per trillion.