Published September 27, 2011
America's ever-growing debt crisis is in the trillions -- more than $14 trillion, give or take a few billion.
That's a lot of zeros, numbers so large they're sure to make Americans numb when trying to get their arms around what it means to them.
But what would the federal debt crisis look like if you set it up as a household budget?
A heck of a lot simpler, according to new figures from one Tea Party group, which estimates the government "household" spends nearly twice as much as it takes in every year, has a credit card bill nearly seven times annual income and cuts back less than 2 percent of that spending in an effort to control the debt.
"We had discussed about how any citizen needs to understand what the proposed cuts mean," said Laurie Newsom, president of the Gainesville, Fla., Tea Party. "One of our members had figured it out and put it in terms of a household budget. If you ran a household with these numbers, you would see that it's simply not enough."
The group looked at some key figures, mainly tax revenue, the current federal budget, debt and budget cuts, and divided each figure by $100 million, in an effort to break it down into simple terms that most Americans can comprehend. The group posted its findings online and came up with a household with an average family income of $21,700. But that "family" spent nearly twice that -- $38,200 -- and has an existing credit card balance of a whopping $142,710.
"Everyone tries to keep things extremely simple for these things meant for general public consumption and of course there's a give-and-take with that," said Seth Rabinowitz, a partner with Silicon Associates, an economics-focused management consulting firm based in California. "I would make it clearer for the layman.They used the line 'Money the family spent'...but really that means, 'Money the family spent (last year and intends to spend this year again).' "
"However, when you remove those eight zeros, the $385 spending cuts obviously aren't even visible. They don't even make a dent," he said.
The bottom line, according to Newsom: "Cuts won't take care of it. You need business growth, which we wouldn't have in a regulatory environment."