How Much is 1,000,000,000,000

On April 2nd, Speaker Nancy Pelosi succeeded in passing her federal budget that outlines more than 3.5 trillion dollars in spending for fiscal year 2010. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected a 1.8 trillion dollar deficit for the current fiscal year (FY2009), and that projection does not include the stimulus bill that will cost Americans more than one trillion dollars, which was signed into law by the President on February 1st. As of April 7, 2009, the U.S. national debt stands at more than eleven trillion dollars (you can view the latest numbers here).

The sheer magnitude of Speaker Pelosi’s spending spree is mind boggling. Most of us do not use the number 1,000,000,000,000 in our daily lives, so it is difficult to attach tangible value to the figure. However, as Congress and the Administration continues spending your tax dollars trillions of dollars at a time, it is worthwhile to have a discussion about what these numbers really mean.

One of the simplest ways to get an idea of one trillion dollars is to consider the amount in terms of the passage of time. One million seconds is equal to roughly eleven days and twelve hours, and one billion seconds is thirty-two years. One trillion seconds equals thirty-two thousand years.

If you spent one million dollars every minute of every day, it would take you nearly two years to spend one trillion dollars. Apparently, that’s not fast enough for Speaker Pelosi. Under her budget, the government plans to spend 6.7 million dollars every minute during the next fiscal year alone.

There are 4.24 million people living in Kentucky. Raising one trillion dollars from every man, woman and child in the Commonwealth would require Kentuckians to contribute $235,849.05 each. $235,849.05 is enough money to pay for four years of tuition at the University of Kentucky for yourself and thirteen of your children or grandchildren.

In fact, one trillion dollars could pay for the college education at a four-year public institution for every student graduating high school across America from now until 2018. It could pay the rent of every renter in the nation for three years, or the mortgage of every homeowner for fourteen months. It is even enough money to purchase all the homes that were foreclosed in 2007 and 2008 combined.

Speaker Pelosi’s budget projects deficits averaging almost one trillion dollars a year for five years. By fiscal year 2014, her budget predicts the national debt will exceed seventeen trillion dollars. The American people know that we cannot spend our way to prosperity. The attempt will saddle our children and grandchildren with mountains of debt. At a time when virtually every American is tightening their budgets, Congress should show some restraint. I remain committed to restoring fiscal sanity in Washington, and I hope President Obama and my colleagues in Congress can work together to put an end to unreasonable federal spending.