A Stack and a Half from Mister Bush

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

Ronald Reagan came into office with three major ideas in mind. Vastly expand defense spending, cut taxes on the wealthy, and do something about the annual budget deficit, then hovering around $80 billion a year. He did increase defense spending, something rightwingers still like to falsely claim sent the Soviet Union into bankruptcy. And he did cut the top tax rate from 70% to 50% to 38% to 28%, giving already wealthy Americans gigantic increases in income while starting us down the road toward a Third World skewing of the ratio between rich and poor. He achieved this with the assistance of more borrowing than all the Presidents who had preceded him. Compared with the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania, however, Reagan was a piker.

The Great Communicator had image-conscious speechwriters. When Reagan first addressed Congress in February 1981, he said:

I’ve been trying … to think of a way to illustrate how big a trillion is.  The best that I could come up with is that if you had a stack of $1000 bills in your hand only four inches high you would be a millionaire. A trillion dollars would be a stack of $1000-dollar bills 67 miles high.

Like so much else said by Reagan during his eight years in office, this wasn’t true. A trillion-dollar stack of $1000 bills is actually just over 63 miles high. But never mind. The image failed for another reason. Most people have never seen a $1000 bill. If you calculate based on the bill Americans are most familiar with, the $20 that ATMs spit out, in 1981 when Reagan delivered that speech, the stack would have been 3150 miles high, almost exactly the distance from my house to Bill in Portland Maine‘s house with a side trip to Washington, D.C.

By the time Reagan left office and was transformed into a GOP icon, the national debt had nearly tripled from the $993 billion owed when he arrived to $2.6 trillion, a stack of twenties soaring 8450 miles high. But Reagan was frugal. Since plunking himself down in the Oval Office and smirking “What a good boy am I!”, Mister Bush has added 11,970 miles to the stack. And when he leaves office, in 224 days, the debt stack will have risen to at least 30,000 miles, $9.5 trillion, nearly $4 trillion of it on his watch.

This sounds terrible I know. But your portion, and that of every other adult and child in the United States, is only 6 inches high. No big deal.  

And think of all you get for Bush’s red ink, that halfway-round-the-world stack of Andy Jacksons.  An investment in a better America. Affordable health care for everyone. A modern, up-to-date, well-maintained, coast-to-coast infrastructure. An education system second to none on the planet. A military ready for any possible threat to national security. An environment protected and preserved. A diverse, well-funded program of scientific and technology research and development. Multi-faceted efforts to reduce poverty. A federal system that instantly responds to emergencies, backed up by restoration and rebuilding. A model prison and rehabilitation system. Urban rejuvenation.

Amazing what a few trillions can do.


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  1. $1,000,000,000 bill. That’ll be his best contribution to US society.

  2. How soon will it be before ATMs have to switch to dispensing $50’s instead of $20’s?

    “Give me the money that has been spent in war and I will clothe every man, woman, and child in an attire of which kings and queens will be proud. I will build a schoolhouse in every valley over the whole earth. I will crown every hillside with a place of worship consecrated to peace.”

    Charles Sumner

    As it is now, we are spendig our national treasure on one thing……fear.

    • Viet71 on June 9, 2008 at 17:00

    run up by Ronnie, shrub I and shrub II:  The huge amount of borrowed money shown on the credit card statement went SOMEWHERE.

    It went almost entirely to large corporations and wealthy individuals.

    A huge wealth wealth transfer out of the pockets of all Americans living and yet to exist.

    Good thing for the criminals like the shrubs that ordinary Americans have lots of diversions to keep them occupied rather than contemplating how they, their children and their grandchildren have been screwed.

  3. Too bad he can’t read.

    It is what a “legacy” will get you. Bush and McCain…losers if there ever were any.  

    Put his name and face on a garbage dump! Or a 3 dollar bill!

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