Sunday, March 07, 2010

How Much Money Is $1 Trillion?

The graphics at this site make things extremely clear. And how big are our projected deficits for the next decade?

13 comments:

mazenko said...

Ah, yes. Visuals are always helpful ... or not. The reality is an economy that functions in trillions now, not billions. And we shouldn't forget where the trillions came from:

tax cuts: $2-3 trillion

undeclared wars: $3 trillion

Medicare D: $1.5 trillion

TARP: $ .9 trillion

1999 - budget surpluses

2001-08 - budget deficits

Darren said...

From the Bureau of the Public Debt web site (http://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np):

12/31/1997 $5,502,388,012,375.95
12/31/1998 5,614,217,021,195.87
12/31/1999 5,776,091,314,225.33
12/29/2000 5,662,216,013,697.37
12/31/2001 5,943,438,563,436.13
(9 months of that budget came from the Clinton Administration, and don't forget what happened on September 11th of that year)
12/31/2002 6,405,707,456,847.53
12/31/2003 6,997,964,247,818.28
12/31/2004 7,596,142,802,424.14
12/30/2005 8,170,424,541,313.62
12/29/2006 8,680,224,380,086.18
(Democrats now control the Congress and can fix all the bad Republican expenditures)
12/31/2007 9,229,172,659,218.31
12/31/2008 10,699,804,864,612.13
President Obama is elected, he's going to bring us back to fiscal sanity!
12/31/2009 12,311,349,677,512.03
Doh!
Last Thursday, the most recent date available at the BPD web site, shows our national debt at $12,545,490,013,032.29.

I see a few things here.
1. Divided government isn't such a bad thing, financially speaking.
2. The Democrat-controlled Congress is spending money faster than the Republican-controlled Congress.
3. None of this is good.

You bring up tax cuts and "undeclared wars", as if we've had any declared war since 1945. Heck, even President Obama campaigned on the idea that Afghanistan was a "war of necessity", so you don't get that one. Medicare D? I agree--we don't need to be spending more on social programs, especially for the richest segment of our population.

Comparing these numbers to GDP, though, things get really ugly--and they're far uglier now than they were just a couple years ago.
http://www.bea.gov/national/index.htm#gdp

mazenko said...

And just a couple years ago, we weren't in a serious economic downturn during which the only entity large enough to keep spending is the government. Note to Senator Bunning from the CBO - the most cost-effective stimulus available is unemployment compensation. The Democrats, in your dates, had less than a year to fix eight years of GOP largesse before the economy unravelled.

The Democrats controlled the house at January 2007, but budgets and much discretionary spending - such as the massive new bureaucracy of the DHS (50,000 government workers) is still set by the Executive Branch.

The debt clock had reversed up until summer of 2001 and was actually being paid down by the Treasury Department - until tax cuts ended the revenue stream for paying down the debt. That preceded the 9/11 attacks.

The Democrat-controlled Congress is spending it during a massive economic downturn - the one time rational people acknowledge the validity of deficit spending.

And now the debt is $12 trillion. Look at the actual numbers of discretionary spending, and explain how you pay it down. Then read Bartlett's "New American Economy" and Walker's "Comeback America" and decide who has a better chance of actually sticking to PAYGO and paying down the debt and not sticking future generations with it.

Or you can keep back the wrong horse.

Darren said...

The numbers don't lie.

And even Keynes said that governments should have a "rainy day fund" to keep spending the same or slightly higher during bad economic times, not just go into more debt as we're doing.

I don't know which horse you think I'm backing here. I don't support it when Republicans keep spending more, especially on social programs (e.g., Medicare D); I support Democrats even less when they spend much *more*.

Mr. W said...

thanks for the site...great find.

BTW, I really like it when you and mazenko go back and forth on your comments. Great dialogue.

mazenko said...

I agree, they don't.

Unrealistic understanding of supply versus demand side economics - and and inability to distinguish between 1980 and 2000 - has led to irresponsible decreases in the necessary revenue to fund the functions of government. This has created $12 trillion in debt at a time of economic crisis.

Additionally, naivete and ideological sound-bites have led to an inability of half the people in government to talk realistically about the job of actually "governing," as an entire party has taken the issue of "revenue" off the table.

Clearly, as Walker and Bartlett - two rational conservatives appointed by true GOP leaders - note, there are tough decisions to be made about revenue and spending. Check out their books, and then post some thoughts.

Darren said...

I don't need to read 2 books to learn that we're spending too much money. We've got to get spending under control before we decide to tax more and spend on something else. This is truly a case of not being able to have our cake and eat it, too.

Look at expenditures on the DoD and compare them to just Medicare and Social Security--then tell me that "two undeclared wars" are the major problem.

MikeAT said...

mazenko

Again you’re trying to have your own facts as opposed to your own opinions.

“undeclared wars: $3 trillion”

By that I take it you mean the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Question: What qualified as a declared war? Did Congress “Declare War” on the southern states in 1861? If you can find that I’d love to see the paperwork. To answer my own question, the Congress declared the southern states in rebellion and funded military operations to keep them in the Union.

Did we “declare war” in 1991 for what is commonly known as the First Gulf War? No, Congress authorized the use of military force on January 12 1991 to drive the Iraqis from Kuwait. (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d102:HJ00077:@@@L&summ2=m&)

Did we “declare war” in 2001 for operations in Afghanistan? No, the Congress passed on September 18, 2001 the “Authorization for the Use of Military Force” who’s stated purpose was “…to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.” (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-107publ40/content-detail.html)

Did we “declare war” in 2002 for the invasion of Iraq? No, the “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002” was passed by the House on 10/10/02 and the Senate on 10/11/02(http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/weekly/bliraqreshouse.htm)

What I’m showing you is Congress did declare war in everything but name. They have “re-declared war” every year by passing a defense budget to authorize the wars. Not to mention if they wanted to “un-declare war" they could do it. Congress just has to cut off funding for operations.

BTY, I hate to point out a mistake on your part but the 3 trillion for the “undeclared war” is flat out wrong.

“With enactment of the FY2009 Supplemental (H.R. 2346/P.L. 111-32) on June 24, 2009, Congress has approved a total of about $944 billion for military operations, base security, reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs, and veterans’ health care for the three operations initiated since the 9/11 attacks: Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Afghanistan and other counter terror operations; Operation Noble Eagle (ONE), providing enhanced security at military bases; and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).” (http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33110.pdf page 2)

I gotta say I agree with you on the Medicare drug program (we have no business paying for Teddy Kennedy’s drugs) and TARP...let the market eliminate those toxic assets by itself.

“the most cost-effective stimulus available is unemployment compensation.”

Can you please give us your source on that…I really want to read that crap!

mazenko said...

No, Darren - even if we get spending under control, even if we froze ALL non-discretionary spending and halved discretionary programs for the next two decades, we could not come close to paying off a $12 trillion debt without serious discussion of how to fairly and adequately raise the revenue necessary to fund the functions of government.

And specific plans that address revenue AND spending are the first step for voters and leaders. That's why I recommend the book - specific details on both sides of the issue from credible sources.

Come on - as a teacher, you know only the ignorant think books are the enemy. No one "needs" a book to conclude that revenue and spending are out of whack. But closing a $12 trillion hole (with underfunded liabilities of $56 trillion) requires very detailed and specific knowledge.

mazenko said...

MikeAT - the $944 billion is the official released numbers, though off-the-books expenditures and impact lead to a much greater role. Read Joseph Stiglitz's "$3 trillion War."

I acknowledge the ambiguous nature of "declared" war. Though, because Darren is generally a strict constructionist, I use the term undeclared, as Congress is given the Constitutional power to "declare war," not commit troops and fund operations willy-nilly.

My point is that if the leaders of any party seek to pursue massive military operations, they should go to the American people to fund it - tax increases or war bonds.

I did give the source - the CBO. It gives the "bang for the buck" ratio in terms of daily outlay. I will correct, the CBO cites it as "one" of the most effective. In terms of "stimulus" there is no doubt the unemployed will spend their benefits, hence stimulus.

Doug said...

Was it just me or was there a problem with the graphics on that page. It says that one million dollars is a nice bundle that fits into a grocery bag (unless you shop at ROTLC's Wal Mart). Then, the next graphic is supposed to be $100 million, and it fills a pallet. But in terms of volume, wouldn't one layer, 10x10 of a million be $100 million? That would put one billion dollars on a pallet 10x10x10 (1000 million). Math guy, help me out if I am wrong.

MikeAT said...

mazenko

“$944 billion is the official released numbers, though off-the-books expenditures and impact lead to a much greater role. Read Joseph Stiglitz's ‘$3 trillion War.’”

In others words an opinion of an academic. Please state it as an opinion. Personally I was thinking the three trillion you were referring to was the total of the defense budgets since 2001.

“I acknowledge the ambiguous nature of 'declared' war. Though, because Darren is generally a strict constructionist, I use the term undeclared, as Congress is given the Constitutional power to 'declare war,' not commit troops and fund operations willy-nilly.”

Let’s go over American history.

How many times have we been at war?

Revolutionary War; War of 1812; Civil War; Mexican American War; Spanish American War; World War I; World War II; Korean War; Vietnam War; Gulf War I; Afghanistan &; Gulf War II. This doesn’t include more minor things (Indian Wars, etc). Of these twelve conflicts, only five have had actual “Declarations of War”, the latest one was World War II. So if I follow your logic, most of our conflicts have been “undeclared wars”.

“My point is that if the leaders of any party seek to pursue massive military operations, they should go to the American people to fund it - tax increases or war bonds.”

It seemed that you wanted to complain about the administration of George W Bush. If you wanted to make those points I suggest you use those words. Darren will no doubt recall the “Army Effective Writing Program” of the late 80s… the central focus is “put your bottom line up front!”

“I did give the source - the CBO. It gives the "bang for the buck" ratio in terms of daily outlay. I will correct, the CBO cites it as "one" of the most effective. In terms of "stimulus" there is no doubt the unemployed will spend their benefits, hence stimulus.”

No, you did not give a source. You gave a federal bureaucracy but nothing to link to, nothing to say “this is where I got it”. Suggest you provide sources like Darren and I did with our hyperlinks. You want to challenge us you can see where you get our data. Question, would a source like “CBO” make it on a term paper in your classroom?

As far as stimulus, taking 1 dollar out of the economy (either taxes or borrowing) and then giving a man 50 cents will lead to a 50 cent input…if you’re lucky. Put money in the pockets of the economically productive class in this country (and the federal bureaucracy is not economically productive…something Haaaaavard educated B Hussein Obama might comprehend if he has ever said “Would you like fries with that?”) through tax cuts, reduced regulations, etc will lead to more economic activity, more employment in the private sector, more money paid into the treasury.

BTY, on the subject of sources you still haven’t answered my question on lawsuits against teaching hospital in Denver. I searched on Google but found nothing.

Darren said...

Regarding the graphic, $1M would be a stack of bills 50" tall (rounding each stack to one half inch thick)--or 2 stacks of 25", or 4 stacks of 12.5", or 8 stacks of 6.25". That *would* fit in a grocery bag.

$100M would be 800 stacks 6.25" thick, or 400 stacks 12.5" high, or 200 stacks 25" high. Considering that each stack of bills is a rectangle and not a square, I envision that the $100M pallet is about right, relatively speaking.