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Money Minute: A trillion here, a trillion there [Video]

February 13, 2012|By David Lazarus

It never fails to amaze how pathetic Uncle Sam is when it comes to balancing the national checkbook.

President Obama has given Congress a budget that envisions $3.8 trillion in spending next year -- $901 billion more than the government will take in.

"The main idea in the budget is this: At a time when our economy is growing and creating jobs at a faster clip, we’ve got to do everything in our power to keep this recovery on track," he said by way of explanation.

The budget estimates a $1.3-trillion deficit in 2012, a slight increase over 2011. That's a big number, but what does it really mean?

Our friends at MoneyWatch crunched the numbers and came up with this: If you spent one dollar every second, you would have spent a million dollars in 12 days. At that same rate, it would take you 32 years to spend a billion dollars. It would take more than 31,000 years to spend a trillion dollars.

Our current national debt is $15.3 trillion (or $49,030 for every man, woman and child).

The national debt rises at an average of approximately $3.8 billion per day. That means the government now borrows approximately $5 billion every business day. Put another way, the government has to borrow 43 cents of every dollar that it currently spends, four times the rate in 1980.

Let the budget bickering begin.

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