The White House has released a new $3.8 trillion budget for
2013. The United States currently owes a staggering $15.3
trillion. If the president says it is not time for austerity, how
do we know?
The word "trillions" has become part of the post-credit-crunch
vocabulary for bankers and politicians alike, but as the word
becomes more common in everyday use, its sheer vastness gets
How do we get our heads around this number?
If you spend a $1 per second of each and every day, it will
take you 32,000 days -- 87 years, a long lifetime -- to spend $1
trillion. For the 2013 federal budget, multiply by 3.8. For the
federal debt, multiply by 15.7.
Put it a different way, the federal government will have to
spend $120,497 every second of 2013 in order to reach that $3.8
Every U.S. citizen -- children and adults alike -- would each
have to pay $3,123 to pay off a single $1 trillion of the federal
debt right now. Multiply by 15.7 for a total liability of $49,031
For just the taxpayers, we owe $8,649 apiece on every $1
trillion in federal debt, or $135,802 on the entire load.
Simply paying a minimal 3% interest rate (
) on $1 trillion in debt costs the country $30 billion a
At the beginning of every year my wife and I sit down draw up
a budget for the year and we never say let's spend more than we
make. Our government does.
If the outflows and inflows stack up like that, it does not
really matter how big or small the actual numbers are.
Total U.S. tax revenue income for the year is $2.4 trillion --
a staggering enough number in itself -- but the U.S. government
wants to spend 58% more than that next year.
To be fair, President Obama has yet to get a budget proposal
passed in the three years he has been in office, which may be
part of the problem here.
Since we have been operating without a budget, the government
has been forced to spend more or less as it goes, without an
overriding direction or plan.
And the meter is running. By the time the November elections
come, the national debt will have increased by $500 billion --
only half a trillion dollars, $1,500 per American citizen.
At even a minimal interest rate of 2%, the interest on
the current federal debt comes to $3.8 trillion a year.
They could print more dollars (
), but that only inflates their way out of debt and makes things
worse for everyone else.
It has to end somewhere. There are "only" 200 billion stars in
the Milky Way, or about 12 for every $1 the government owes.
Time for change yet?