What’s Another $1,000,000,000,000?

March 15, 2013

It’s not easy to spend $1 trillion – unless you’re a member of Congress or President Obama.

In the U.S. Senate’s first budget in four years, Budget Chair Patty Murray would, among other things, cancel the sequestration cuts and rewrite spending caps to allow another $1 trillion in spending.

The federal government spent $3.6 trillion in fiscal year 2012 and the federal debt is now $16.5 trillion and growing by the day, so what’s another $1,000,000,000,000?

Picturing $1 Trillion

It helps to give the number some context.

If you were to start with the year 0 and spend $1 per second through the end of today, it would add up to $63,456,739,200.  Plus another way, you would have to spend nearly $16 per second over that entire time to reach $1 trillion.

To reach just $1 trillion in debt, without accounting for interest payments, you would have to accumulate $41,413 in debt starting in the year 0.  Yet Congress has been adding more than that amount to the federal debt each year.

If you had a stack of $1 bills and were able to put them one on top of another (you’d better hope you don’t encounter any strong winds during the process), the stack would be 67,900 miles high.

Yet in Washington, $1 trillion increase in spending is just part of the job.  (A $1,000,000,000,000 increase will not cause a crisis, but a $43,000,000,000 decrease will).  Stack the dollar bills in last year’s $3.6 trillion budget on top of each other and you would reach the moon, which is 238,900 miles away.

On top of the $16.5 trillion debt, we also have $86.8 trillion in unfunded liabilities (about 24 trips to the moon) from Medicare, Social Security and retirement benefits for federal employees.

Then there’s the more than $5 trillion the U.S. will pay in interest payments over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.  That’s money paid just to allow the government to continue its reckless spending.  We get nothing in return.  No poor will be fed, no children will be educated and no highways will be built with that money.

In the business world, no one would spend $1,000 without having some idea of what the return might be on that investment.  In the federal government trillions are spent without accountability and with the only return being another term in office.


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