Breaking It Down: The National Debt

January 17, 2013

New Feature: Each week we’ll take on a budget- or economy-related number and break it down into terms to which most Americans can relate. Our first – of course – the national debt.

The national debt currently totals more than $16.432 trillion. What could you get for $16.432 trillion?

  1. 164,320 Bailouts For Lance Armstrong. According to The Wall Street Journal, the federal government is considering whether to join a whistleblower lawsuit against Lance Armstrong. The newspaper says, “[I]f Armstrong and others are found to have violated the [False Claims Act], they could be on the hook for … damages of roughly $100 million.” It might not buy you (or him) a Tour de France, but for $16.432 trillion you could bail out Armstrong 164,320 times.
  2.  3,912 Of The Most-Expensive Election Cycles. According to CNN, the 2012 election cost at least $4.2 billion. You might not win the presidency, but for $16.432 trillion you could fund 3,912 elections.
  3.  7,825 Top-Valued NFL Sports Teams. The Dallas Cowboys are the highest-valued sports team in the NFL, worth an estimated $2.1 billion. You might not be able to buy a Super Bowl – or even a playoff berth – but for $16.432 trillion you could get 7,825 Cowboys’ teams.
  4.  74,691 Top-Grossing Movies. The top-grossing movie of 2012, The Avengers, cost $220 million to make. You might not win an Oscar, but for $16.432 trillion you could make nearly 74,691 top-grossing films.
  5.  19,331,764 Celebrity Engagement Rings. Celebutante Khole Kardashian’s diamond engagement ring is worth an estimated $850,000. It might not buy you a lifetime of wedded bliss, but $16.432 trillion would buy you more than 19.3 million Kardashian rings.

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