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I don't know about you but I have a hard time getting my head around the number $15 trillion. It's so huge I have a hard time imagining what 15 trillion of anything would look like.
When you look at our massive national debt, it seems clear that our elected officials have let it run out of control and it’s getting only worse. The national debt has been particularly devastating in unmanageable since the Democratic Party won both houses of Congress in the midterm elections of 2006.
When you look at the number $15 trillion it's hard to see anything but a lot of zeros. For most of us, it's a number so huge as to become meaningless. However, the people of America will have to repay that debt eventually and that $15 trillion works out to be about $132,000 for every household in the US. Now, think how you would work that into your household budget this year.
What's even worse is that $15 trillion is not a fixed amount. When Pres. Obama submitted a 10-year budget earlier this year that would have added another $9 trillion on top of the 15 trillion and that was with the rosiest revenue projections imaginable.
Let's take the $15 trillion and break it down to make it more understandable.
- 2011 US tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
- 2011 Federal budget: $3,820,000,000,000
- New debt this year: $1,650,000,000,000
- National debt, late 2011: $14,271,000,000,000
- Recent budget cuts: $38,500,000,000
Remove eight zeroes
Let's remove eight zeroes and turn it into a budget for a low-income family.
- Annual family earnings: $21,700
- Family expenditures: $38,200
- New debt on charge cards: $16,500
- Charge card outstanding balance: $142,710
- Total budget cuts: $385
Now, if this was actually the family’s earnings and spending, can imagine that any bank, credit union or even a financing shark would give it credit? The fact is this family would not be able to get a mortgage to buy a home, get a loan to buy a new car or send one of its kids to a decent college. Nice existence, what?
A different point of view
Another way to look at our national debt is that if it were a family, it would not be able to eat, drive a car, shop for clothes or Christmas presents, and pay taxes or bills for 7 years. It would have to totally abstain from eating, shopping, and paying taxes or bills to repay that $142,710 charge card debt–given their current household earnings.
For those of us old enough to remember the seventies, Dire Straits was a rock band. Today, it's a way to describe the condition our country has gotten itself into. And like that fictitious family earning just $21,700 a year, the US is going to have to take some very serious measures to work itself out of the mess we're in.
What will be required
Step 1–reduce entitlement spending by 10% a year for the next 5 years by reducing the number of federal workers and by not sending American troops all around the world.
Step 2–eliminate some of the government agencies and departmental redundancies and obsolete or dysfunctional government functions.
Step 3–revise Medicare, state Medicaid programs and Social Security to get rid of the fraud and criminal activity in these entitlement programs.
Step 4–clean up the fraud in government social programs and reduce tax evasion, which costs the US government almost half a $1 trillion annually.
Step 5–impose term limits on US senators and representatives. Make them “one and done.” The people now in Washington got us into this mess and it's doubtful that they can get us out of it. We need to get a new class of politicians with new ideas.
A frightening fact
If you really want to be frightened by our budgetary mess, consider this: even if the government had reduced its 2011 spending of $3,820,000,000,000 by 10 percent annually for the next 5 years, we would still not reach a balanced budget.