American Elephants

Promises? Obama Will Need to Raise $4.3 Trillion! by The Elephant's Child

The new president, whoever he is, will face a budget deficit of at least $1 trillion, possibly much more according to economist Alan Reynolds writing in the Wall Street Journal.

Senator Obama has nevertheless promised to devote another $1.32 trillion over the next 10 years to several new or expanded refundable tax credits and a special exemption for seniors, according to the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution’s Tax Policy Center (TPC). He calls this a “middle-class tax cut,” while suggesting the middle class includes 95% of those who work.

Mr. Obama’s proposed income-based health-insurance subsidies, tax credits for tiny businesses, and expanded Medicaid eligibility would cost another $1.63 trillion, according to the TPC.  Thus his tax rebates and health insurance subsidies alone would lift the undisclosed bill to future taxpayers by $2.95 trillion — roughly $295 billion a year by 2012.

But that’s not all.  Mr Obama has also promised to spend more on 176 other programs, according to an 85-page list of campaign promises (actual quotations) compiled by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation.  The NTUF was able to produce cost estimates for only 77 of the 176, so its estimate is low.  Excluding the Obama health plan, the NTUF estimates that Mr. Obama would raise spending by $611.5 billion over the next five years; the 10-year total (aside from health) would surely exceed $1.4 trillion, because spending typically grows at least as quickly as nominal GDP.

A trillion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.  Altogether, Mr. Obama is promising at least $4.3 trillion of increased spending and reduced tax revenue from 2009 to 2018 — roughly an extra $430 billion a year by 2012-2013.

Mr. Obama’s proposed tax hikes on “the rich” would probably not raise more than $30-35 billion according to Mr. Reynolds, but Mr Obama claimed that he has “laid out how I’ll pay for every dime — by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens.” Mr. Obama dreams about increasing corporate tax collections by more than 25% just by closing “loopholes” and complaining about “foreign tax havens.”  In today’s climate this looks even more unbelievable, as profits are falling, banks have cut or eliminated dividends, and who has any capital gains?

Mr. Reynolds adds that “the campaign has said that an Obama administration would look for other sources of revenue.” Even if he dips deep into the taxes of the middle class, he would still come up short.

You might want to keep this in mind.

How Much is A Trillion? by The Elephant's Child
October 26, 2008, 7:24 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
  • A million seconds is 11.5 days.  A billion seconds is 32 years.  A trillion seconds is 32,000 years.
  • A tightly-packed stack of new $100 bills totaling $1 million would be about 4 feet high.  A billion dollar stack of $100 bills would be 4,000 feet high, or 3 Sears Towers stacked on top of each other.
    A stack of $100 bills totaling $1 trillion would be 789 miles high or 144 Mr. Everests stacked on top of one another.
  • In 2007, Microsoft generated $51 billion in revenue — sales, not profits.  To reach a trillion dollars in revenue, we’d need 20 Microsofts.
  • A box that holds a case of copier paper will hold about $72,000 one-dollar bills.  It would take 1.4 billion boxes to hold a trillion dollars.
  • With $1 trillion, everyone living in America in 2008 could have 1,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.                                          (from

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