September 21 2011
Carrie L. Lukas
Politicians generally know the importance of translating complicated policy into language that non-wonks can understand. When it comes to budget numbers, that can be challenging. Many Americans don't know how many zeros are in a "trillion," much less what a trillion deficit means in terms of the economy and its economic effects. In this poll question, for example, respondents were given five multiple-choice answers for the question "how many thousands are in a trillion" and just 21 percent answered correctly (barely more than you would expect if everyone guessed randomly).
The Gainesville Tea Party seems to have the right idea: They take some of our key economic numbers - how much money the U.S. government brings in, how much it spends, and how much brave politicians are "cutting" to bring those numbers into balance - and simply lop off eight zeros (i.e., divide by 100 million) to make those numbers something that American families can relate to:
Why S&P Downgraded the US:
Let's remove 8 zeros and pretend it's a household budget:
Even as a self-described policy wonk, I found this eye-opening. It's harder to pretend that Washington leadership is serious about restoring fiscal sanity when their budget cuts are seen in this context.