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Another Humongous Deficit
Tuesday, 2005 January 25 - 10:25 pm
The White House prediction for the 2005 budget deficit: $427 billion. So far.

If I had $427 billion, I could buy a Mac Mini for every man, woman, and child in the country... and then I could buy Microsoft and shut it down, thus fulfilling my dream of turning this country into a Macintosh Utopia. (Mac Mini for everyone in the U.S.: $148 billion. 99% stake in Microsoft Corporation: $279 billion. A world without Windows: priceless.)

The point is, $427 billion is a dang huge heap of money. And that's not even how much the country is in debt: it's the amount that we're going to overspend this year. The size of the federal debt is $7.6 trillion dollars. For that, I could buy a two-carat diamond ring, Jeep Wrangler, or a Harvard education for every man, woman, and child in the country. (Take your pick.)

Republicans like to wave their hand over the size of the deficit, as if it weren't a big deal. "It's less than 4% of the GDP," they say. "It's nothing."

Let's translate this into per-capita numbers. Say you are the breadwinner for a family of four. Your are already in debt to the tune of $100,000. The company you work for makes $135,000 a year in gross revenue, and your salary is $28,000 a year. Every year you spend $33,000, putting you $5000 further into debt. Your annual spending includes $6000 on guns, $6000 for your brother Ed (who lost his job) and his family, $7000 for your own health care, and $6800 for taking care of your grandma. You hope your grandkids will, in turn, take care of you, since you're not putting anything towards retirement. If not, you might be relying on your sister Edwina to pull you through. Your Republican friends tell you that as long as your company is growing, it's okay that your debt is increasing, because eventually your salary will go up too.

Does this sound like a good plan to you?

Republicans used to assail Democrats for running up deficits, saying that one wouldn't run a business or a household like this. Where are those fiscally conservative Republicans now?

By the way: the $427 billion does not include any additional outlays that would be required for Bush's Social Security scheme. I'm actually rather enjoying watching Bush struggle to get people behind this ridiculous privatization thing; his second term may be permanently marked by failure because of this.

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Posted by Ken in: politics

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