The National Debt in Layman’s Terms

Oregon Transformation Project FlashFact

Many Americans are feeling out of touch with the recent squabbles over our national debt ceiling, federal budget, and debt levels.  It’s tough to accept that “trillion” is the new billion; let alone grasp the concept of “trillions of dollars”.

So let’s breakdown the 2011 federal budget into terms that we can all understand:

Our current federal budget numbers:
 U.S. Income (Revenue)                        $2,170,000,000,000
 Federal Budget (Expenditures)                $3,820,000,000,000
 New Debt (2011 Revenue minus Expenditures)   $1,650,000,000,000
 National Debt                               $14,610,000,000,000
 Spending cut from debt limit deal               $38,500,000,000

Now, if we remove some zeroes and make this a family budget, how would this family be faring?

 Total annual income for family:                         $21,700
 Amount of money family spent this year:                 $38,200
 Amount of new debt added to the family’s credit card:   $16,500
 Outstanding balance on family’s credit card:           $146,100
 Amount family decided to cut from their budget:            $385

Would a family that spends $16,500 more than it makes, and with a credit card balance of $146,100, address the problem by only cutting the equivalent of mom’s monthly pedicure?

A 1% trimming is a small start, but certainly not a solution.

Sources:, US Treasury Dept., concept by David Thomas, Equitas Capital Advisors LLC