Saturday, April 16

Federal budget in terms people can understand

Read the next sentence, then close your eyes and guess: What's the proposed federal budget for the coming year?

(One hesitates to use the word "budget" with such a wildly debt-riddled piece of fantasy.)

To see the answer, highlight the area between the asterisks below.

The federal government has proposed to spend, in a single year, **$3,820,000,000,000**

That's **$3.82 Trillion.**

(How close was your guess? If you got between 3 and 4 Trillion you're exceptionally well informed.)

Okay, how much of that will the government be forced to borrow (typically from China)?

$1.65 Trillion.

Virtually no one can directly comprehend numbers this big. So a blogger at Harvard had an idea to make the federal budget make sense: Divide all the numbers by 100 million. So now the story goes like this:

Say there's a small family spending $38,200 a year. Unfortunately their income is only $21,700 per year, so they've been adding $16,500 in credit card debt every year in order to keep buying the things they want or need.

A couple of family members said this wasn't a good thing, that they were just getting further and further in debt. "We have to cut spending," they said. But no one wanted to give up any of the things they liked.

Finally, after an angry, year-long debate among family members, the parents and children agreed to cut their annual spending by $380 per year.

So after this long, agonizing debate, this year the family will only have to put...$16,120 on the credit card instead of $16,500.

Celebration all around! Problem solved! Yay us!

Remember all the smoke and headlines from Washington last week about those nasty, budget-whacking, granny-starving Republicans trying to cut spending? In the scale of the family noted above, this is what the Democrats agreed to: a one percent cut.

In fact the cutters didn't even accomplish that much, because much of the claimed cuts were actually budget tricks and gimmicks. Many analysts say the actual amount of spending reduction is less than two percent of the $38 Billion claimed by congress.

Congress is a joke. As is the administration.


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