The Congressional Budget Office announced last week that the federal deficit for 2009 would be $1.2 trillion--as a share of the economy, the largest since World War II. And that's not even including the proposed stimulus package. Responding to that staggering sum, President-elect Barack Obama warned that without decisive action, "trillion-dollar deficits will be a reality for years to come."
But just how much is $1.2 trillion?
To put this year's deficit in perspective, we thought of a few unrealities that carry a similar price tag:
- 300 billion gallons of milk to do the body good.
- 4.8 billion Nintendo Wiis, more than enough to keep our kids happy and coordinated.
- 72.6 million children's education in 2009--or every student in kindergarten through college.
- 5,000 dollars to everyone in Japan and 500 dollars to everyone in China--enough to pay down our foreign debt to both countries.
- 365 free movie tickets for everyone in America.
- 5 years of free gasoline across the country.
- 4 major companies: Exxon Mobil, General Electric, Microsoft and Wal-Mart.
- 2 wars in Iraq; this one, and a second shot at Mission Accomplished.
- 1 year's worth of everything produced in Canada.
Noble causes, all, but one in particular stands out: compensation for all of Bernard Madoff's defrauded investors with a 2000 percent rate of return.
The authors are Research Analysts of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.