Friday | May 23, 2003
How Much is Ten Trillion Dollars, Really?
One of tomorrow's leaders nails it: "You're foolin' me again, Unca Ron! There's no such thing as a trillion dollars!" In your heart, y'know she's right!
$10,000,000,000,000.00 sounds like a lot of money -- but every statistic in Major League Budgetball sounds like a lot of money. Just how much is $10T, in everyday terms?
(a) A lot of moneyIt's not the sort of question most of us have to deal with every day.
Picture your home swept away by some natural disaster -- right down to the last foundation block. Picture your neighbor's home, likewise, and everybody's home.
Picture Mr. and Mrs. America crawling out from the rubble, surveying the damage, trucking down to Home Depot for load after load of bricks and boards, rolling up their sleeves and investing the sweat equity it takes to put things back the way they were. That's a ten trillion dollar job.
We went into the tax cut debates of 2001 projecting a ten-year surplus of 5.6 trillion dollars. Today's Congressional Budget Office projections put us a couple trillion in the hole. Account for the sure things not yet reflected in CBO figures -- AMT relief, fully-funded homeland defense, reasonable costs of occupying Iraq, realistic costing for continuing programs -- and we're more than $4T in the red.
That's a ten trillion dollar reversal in federal fortunes, and we have set nothing aside for prescription drug benefits, Social Security reform, full-scale Missile Defense, or anything unexpected. A year or two later, the boomer bulge hits retirement.
Who gets to pay the piper? And when? I'll take that up shortly. (Hint: The news is worse than you think.)
RonK, SeattlePosted May 23, 2003 01:01 AM | Comments (123)