The Corner

Bringing the Budget Numbers Down to Size

Politicians generally know the importance of translating complicated policy into language that non-wonks can understand. When it comes to budget numbers, that can be challenging. Many Americans don’t know how many zeros are in a “trillion,” much less what a trillion deficit means in terms of the economy and its economic effects. In this poll question, for example, respondents were given five multiple-choice answers for the question “how many thousands are in a trillion” and just 21 percent answered correctly (barely more than you would expect if everyone guessed randomly). 

The Gainesville Tea Party seems to have the right idea: They take some of our key economic numbers — how much money the U.S. government brings in, how much it spends, and how much brave politicians are “cutting” to bring those numbers into balance — and simply lop off eight zeros (i.e., divide by 100 million) to make those numbers something that American families can relate to:

Why S&P Downgraded the US:

U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000

Federal budget: $3,820,000,000,000

New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000

National debt: $14,271,000,000,000

Recent [April] budget cut: $ 38,500,000,000

Let’s remove 8 zeros and pretend it’s a household budget:

Annual family income: $21,700

Money the family spent: $38,200

New debt on the credit card: $16,500

Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710

Budget cuts: $385

Even as a self-described policy wonk, I found this eye-opening. It’s harder to pretend that Washington leadership is serious about restoring fiscal sanity when their budget cuts are seen in this context.  

Carrie Lukas — Carrie Lukas is the president of the Independent Women’s Forum.

Most Popular

U.S.

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More
Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More