Right now the national debt of nearly $18 billion exceeds gross domestic product (GDP), yet at $3.5 trillion and counting, government spending isn’t slowing down.

It’s hard to comprehend such sky-high figures. The Heritage Foundation’s Romina Boccia (and IWF’s Lean Together co-author) helps bring those numbers down to earth by showing the impact of all that spending and debt on a typical American household:

  • In 2014, the federal government spent more than $28,800 per household and still racked up a $4,000 deficit per household. In 2024, spending per household will be $47,300.
  • The federal government borrowed 14 cents of every dollar it spent in 2014.
  • The national debt in 2014 exceeds $145,000 per household.
  • In 2014, a median-income family will earn about $52,000. If a typical family followed the federal government’s lead, it would spend nearly $60,400 and put $8,400 on a credit card. This family would have already racked up more than $308,800 in credit card debt—like a mortgage, only without the house.

Boccia rightly recommends reform not only to mandatory annual spending and duplicative programs, she also identifies lots of fat we could trim from the budget right now—starting with a six-figure study of the effects of Swedish massage on rabbits.