Frank Luntz Republican Playbook -- Searchable Text-Version: PART V "THE BUDGET: ENDING WASTEFUL WASHINGTON SPENDING"
UPDATE: This section is now complete.
In the fifth installment of the text version of the Luntz Republican playbook, Frank insists that the budget problems be blamed on 'Wasteful government spending'... no, not the tax cuts to the most wealthy Americans or the quarter billion burned in a war of Bush betrayal. The deficits are all about those ever-so-reviled social programs. This sets the stage for 'Starving the beast'.
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THE BUDGET: ENDING WASTEFUL WASHINGTON SPENDING
COMMUNICATING THE 2005 BUDGET IN EIGHT EASY STEPS
1) "PUTTING OUR NATIONAL PRIORITIES IN ORDER." That is the top American priority right now. And that should be at the core of your communication efforts.
2) "Common sense” and “accountability" are the two principles that matter most in the upcoming budget debate. Yes, these attributes matter in every national debate, but they are particularly important to Americans who universally think you waste way too much of their taxpayer dollars and blame Republicans just as much as Democrats for the deficits. If you can demonstrate these two attributes, you win the communication war. If you don't, you won't.
3) "PRINCIPLES" should be at the heart of an discussion about the budget. At the outset of your speech, list numerically and then descriptively the process you follow in deciding how to spend the money of America's hardworking overburdened taxpayers.
4) “Cutting wasteful Washington spending” has always had greater emotional appeal than “balancing the budget.” This is still true today. Americans still believe the primary cause of the deficit is wasteful Washington spending, not the tax cuts. So tell them: “Americans aren’t taxed too little. Washington spends too much.”
5) "Economic growth" is the best way to balance the budget. Remind people that raising taxes discourages work, investment and achievement, and it only gives the IRS a larger piece of a smaller pie. The economy is growing and expanding thanks to lower taxes and other policies that encourage job creation and innovation. And when the economy grows, the government collects more and we will be able to keep more.
6) "Winning the war on terror is the first budget priority." As President Bush has said, homeland defense, rebuilding our military, and conducting the war on terrorism must be our top priorities. We must and will spend whatever it takes to keep this country safe."
7) Talk in real terms, not in terms of economic theories. While the typical Republican spends too much time discussing procedural budget details, Democrats make a grand show of responding to everyday American concerns. Language that works: The budget isn't about numbers or about theory. Our common sense budget is about priorities and people - real people with real dreams of the future.
8) It's about the future, not just the present. What are we going to do to secure the budget responsibly for the next generation? The choice is clear. Either we tie the hands of Washington and stop it from spending our money, or Washington will tie the hands of our children and spend them further into debt. That’s an easy choice for me
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"Here's one good idea to make. sure we continue to grow our economy. Congress needs to restrain spending. The recession and the cost of war an-d the cost of home/and defense have increased our deficits. Yet I am determined to fund the great priorities of our government while exercising the spending restraint that will return America to the path of a balanced budget as soon as possible. More money spent in Washington means less money in the hands of American families and entrepreneurs, and less money in the hands of risktakers and job creators."
-- President George W. Bush
That represents language perfection - but you will need more than just language. You need a few powerful facts. So when someone tries to pin the deficits on the Republicans, tell them the following:
According to the Joint Economic Committee in 2004, nearly 40% of the surplus was eaten up' by the recession, another 40 percent by new spending (the majority of which went to the war and homeland security), and only 24 percent by tax cuts and rebates (some of which were strongly supported by Democrats).
What Happened to the surplus?
(Changes to CBO's FY2002-2011 budget baseline from January 2001 to September 2004)
Increased Spending ~ 39%
Weak Economy& Estimate Changes ~37%
2001 Tax Cuts ~ 18%
2003 Tax Cuts ~ 5%
Economic Stimulus (Other Minor Tax Relief) ~ 1%
Source: Congressional Budget Office (Includes debt service costs)
Now, in the name of "fiscal responsibility," Democrats are calling for repeal of the Bush tax cuts. But what that represents to the hardworking, overburdened American taxpayer is the single biggest tax increase in the history of America. So yet again, the Democrats are trying to balance the budget on the backs of the American taxpayer. We don't agree. And here's the ultimate sound-bite to articulate our differences:
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The Overarching Message
"The Democrats believe we have deficits because Americans are taxed too little. We Republicans believe we have deficits because Washington spends too much."
Yes, the deficit is once again a political concern - and it is a greater threat to Republicans because their base is• demanding greater spending restraint and more fiscal accountability. The deficit once again enrages Americans not because of what it is but because of what it represents: a Washington out of control, out of touch and out to undermine the hardworking overburdened American taxpayer. Conservatives also link Washington with the deteriorating national morality - the way Washington spends our money subsidizing anti-social behavior moves the American Dream further from our grasp.
The challenge is steep but success is imperative to everything else you wish to achieve. Wasteful Washington spending is the reason why Americans think Social Security is in trouble. Wasteful Washington spending is the biggest complaint Americans have with Congress. You become the party most opposed to wasteful Washington spending and you secure your majority through the next redistricting ... and perhaps longer.
It was the Republicans who produced balanced budgets in the late 1990s, yet it was Bill Clinton who got the credit. Why? Because we mishandled the public relations effort. We stood up for principle, but it came across as politics as usual. John Kasich had it right in the 1990s, and Jim Nussle has it right today. Now it's up to the Republicans in both Houses of Congress and the White House to follow their lead.
Congressman Jeb Hensarling created a taskforce to identify and eliminate wasteful Washington spending. That task force should take center stage in 2005, but that in itself is still not enough. The language that follows can turn things around if we learn nom our rhetorical mistakes and do it right this time:
1) The moral force for a sensible bud et must be stronger than that or the pseudomoralists who will decry specific budget cuts. The media will always focus on the few who will be hurt rather than on the many who will be helped by a budget that is under control. You need to fight back, and you need to name the debate in terms of a "moral commitment to our children, the next generation. and our future as a nation." You must match your opponent's story for story - the personal and national immorality of passing along increasing debt to our children and future generations versus their budget cutting horror stories. Otherwise, you may win the budget battle once again but lose the rhetorical war.
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2) People only understand the budget in their own terms. No one knows what the national debt is because no one really comprehends trillions of dollars. Americans understand the cost of a week's groceries, a quart of milk, a night at the movies (including popcorn). Big numbers are nothing more than big numbers. Personalize what wasteful Washington spending really means. Name the programs and the cost.
3) Speak in threes. Every fact and example must tie into the big picture, but too many can obscure the message. Fewer than three facts or examples are insufficient; more than three are confusing.
4) Individual programs have friends and constituencies, Bureaucracies and bureaucrats don't. Therefore, focus the general rhetorical attack on the "Washington bureaucracy." Americans constantly complain about the billions mismanaged and wasted by their government because of needless layers of administration and personnel. The greatest anger is directed at bureaucrats and waste rather than at the specific programs. Therefore, every budget statement by every Republican should include the words “cutting the unnecessary bureaucracy and ending wasteful Washington spending."
6) Political communication works only when it is played in context. STOP TALKING ABOUT PAIN. START TALKING ABOUT “SHARED SACRIFICE” and "GENERATIONAL FAIRNESS." The public does not want to see services cut, but the vast majority are prepared to make shared sacrifices "so that their children can achieve the American Dream." If we talk about pain, we lose. If we talk about "strengthening the American economy and restoring fiscal accountability," we win.
7) Established (don't say private) charities will deliver services better to those in need. A majority of Americans believes the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity can deliver more efficient and better quality services to needy Americans than Washington ever could. Play up President Bush's faith-based initiative and the help it would give to local charities at every opportunity. Remember, if you want to promote an end to Washington spending, you need to communicate an alternative to Washington spending.
8) Stop talking about the process. No new acronyms. Our communication efforts have always been hampered by too many acronyms, initials and mind-numbing inside-theBeltway details. Even now, I already hear Senators talking about PRAs rather than Personal Savings Accounts. The public doesn't understand the acronyms and frankly, they don't want to learn. They're concerned with principles and values, not process.
TIPS FOR PRESS SECRETARIES
Bring a copy of the federal budget to use as a prop to demonstrate the massive size of the federal budget and the potential for cutting wasteful and unnecessary spending programs.
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1) Budgets are about SETTING NATIONAL PRIORITIES before anything else. New Democratic linguists like George Lakoff are currently trying to portray budgeting and taxation as the American government's form of investment. Fortunately, this simply doesn't jive with what Americans actually think. The following comes right from a 2005 national survey - even when you name the programs Americans want most, they still think we are overtaxed because they think you waste too much:
"Based on what we want and expect from government, we are ...
OVERTAXED ~ 71%
UNDER TAXED ~ 16%
NEITHER/DK ~ 13%
"Based on what we want and expect from government, from education to healthcare, from national security to retirement security, we are ...
OVERTAXED ~ 66%
UNDER TAXED ~ 14%
NEITHER/DK ~ 20%
Americans look upon budgets as a political process firmly grounded in the present. In that case, you must emphasize the role of the budget in establishing our national priorities. It is here that the "rubber meets the road" and the hard spending decisions are made. They understand that ultimately budgeting is an exercise in priority-making and belt-tightening.
“When it comes to federal government spending, which of the following approaches would you most like to see? I do need you to choose just one ... would you like to see the federal government ...
66% ~ PUTTING OUR NATIONAL PRIORITIES IN ORDER
23% ~ INVESTING IN THE FUTURE
8% ~ INVESTING EVERY PENNY NECESSARY BUT NOT A PENNY MORE
3% ~ DON'T KNOW/REFUSED
2) COMMON SENSE matters more than another descriptive attribute. We asked Americans in the 2005 survey what they most wanted. Fully 48% prefer a COMMONSENSE budget while only 26% preferred a budget that "reduces the debt burden for future generations. " Here again, we can see that setting commonsense spending limits is the best way to frame the upcoming debate.
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Democrats have been most successful when they infuse budgeting rhetoric with lofty ideals and scare tactics. It worked because the only Republican response had been an emphasis on process. An injection of common sense puts you on the winning side:
3) Emphasize the RISK to continuing ECONOMIC GROWTH if taxes are raised. If the Democrats had their way, the impending budget battle would be fought exclusively on taxes.
You need to make this a debate over spending. Of course you know this and I know this, but the American people have to hear this from you. Communicating “commonsense budget priorities" and “tax permanence" go hand-in-hand. Making the case for tax permanence is outlined more specifically in this document's section on taxes. But know this: the American public is fearful that allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire would negatively harm both their own finances AND the American economy.
WORDS THAT WORK
Some have suggested - of the other political faith - that now is the time to raise taxes. I must tell you the President and I think that's one of the worst ideas we've heard in a long time. As we're coming out of the recession, as we're getting the engine of the economy driving again, for us to now raise taxes would be exactly the wrong response. We'd put at risk the progress we've made, and clearly, it would cost probably hundreds of thousands of jobs out there in the economy.
-- Vice President Dick Cheney
4) YOUR money is better spent in YOUR COMMUNITY than it is in Washington. Everyone thinks that they take better care of their finances than the government. This is as close to a universal rule in public opinion. But not enough politicians talk about this. It is an easy way to connect with voters - to identify with their perceived plight as an American taxpayer as well as to their implicit distrust of government
This is also another opportunity to focus the debate on the revenue side rather than the spending side. You must constantly remind voters that this is THEIR money that they have given the government, and it is going to waste in Washington.
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WORDS THAT WORK
I think the worst thing you could do for the economy is to raise taxes on the small businesses and families. The best thing we could do is to keep the economy growing and· the theory is that if you want your community to grow Main Street, leave your money in Main Street, not in Washington. And in the end it is our spending that is the problem, it is not our economy, it is the spending and we have just, we're just out of control on it.
-- Congressman Kevin Brady
5) ACCOUNTABILITY. RESPONSIBILITY. DISCIPLINE. Three words. That’s what Americans want to hear: these three words. And when you put the word "budget" before it, their impact soars. And when you and Congress and Washington to the mix, you have perfect communication.
WORDS THAT WORK
We in Congress need to tighten our belt and restrain the growth of spending. It was Winston Churchill who said, “Trying to tax yourself into prosperity is like trying to lift yourself up in a bucket while you 're standing in the bottom of it." It doesn't work that way. Any Democrat who thinks that the United States of America is somehow under taxed, rye got news for you: We accept voluntary contributions at the United States Treasury. Just send it in. I don't think we'll get many contributions.
-- Congressman Bob Beauprez
You simply can't draw enough parallels to the family budgeting process. It forces voters to evaluate the US budget for what it is, rather than as some abstract governing concept. It is too easy to get lost in procedural lingo and statistical one-upmanship. Don’t let it happen. Keep it simple and force Americans to apply some common-sense kitchen-table economics to the budget process.
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MORE WORDS THAT WORK
Why aren't we more competitive in the world? Why aren't there more jobs being created? Why isn't the economy bigger? To me, there's a simple, answer. I'm a businessman. I've been out there and done it. The reason is that we have overtaxed and over regulated ourselves to where we are less competitive. We need to untie that knot, reduce that burden, let the economy run like you would a young horse, and it will run and it will run.
-- Congressman Bob Beauprez
THE COST CONTAINMENT COMMISSION
I first proposed this in 1999 and I again offer it in 2005. Congressman Kevin Brady has taken a fantastic first step by proposing a “sunset” provision that would shut down programs after they have outlived their usefulness. This takes that approach one step further.
The objective of the Cost Containment Commission is to use an issue that unites all congressional Republicans (from both chambers) with the White House, and puts us squarely on the side of the American people -in contrast to congressional Democrats. ·Only one issue can accomplish all of those objectives: cutting wasteful Washington spending. Creating and then ·publicizing a Cost Containment Commission would allow Republicans to differentiate themselves (positively) from the Democrats and would get us talking about an issue that Americans deeply care about.
We need to learn from our one great political success of 1997-98 - the Senate hearings. Democrats were caught flat-footed by the public outcry against IRS abuses, but that outcry only occurred when Americans had the choice to watch and listen to the IRS abuses from the comfort of their own couches. Sure, beating up ·on the IRS is always effective, but the public hearings are what brought the story home.
Therefore, we should recreate the same political and communication environment:
(1) PUBLIC HEARINGS. This is the most important component of the communication strategy. Most of our projects are conducted through C-Span, CNN, Fox News, or other "political" outlets. Public hearings, if they are sufficiently visual and sensational, can transcend politics and enter the day-to-day lives of average Americans. That's exactly what happened with the IRS hearings and what can happen here.
(2) TOWN HALL MEETINGS. This is how individual Members can link their own hostility to wasteful Washington spending to the commission's efforts. Each Member should hold multiple town hall meetings that replicate in a hundred districts (It’s better when two or three Members work together) what is happening in Washington.
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(3) TALK RADIO. This is how we hit the grassroots home run. Imagine the political impact of Rush, Hannity, Liddy, North and Reagan reading lists of wasteful programs every day to about 35 million Americans. Let the Democrats defend them. Let the Republicans and our conservative allies attack. The Cost Containment Commission was made for talk radio.
(4) MEMBER NEWSLETTERS AND MAILINGS. The simplest strategies can be the most important. Newsletters and franked mail filled with stories of wasteful Washington spending and what Republicans are doing to stop it is what we want constituents to be reading about from now through the next election.
There are two key legislative components:
(1) Every dollar of "waste" should be isolated and put forward to a vote on the floor. Now I realize that there will be a "rationale" presented for each program, but few Americans will understand why cow flatulence or grasshopper mating habits should be the focus of a million-dollar study. The key is to win as many successful votes as possible to eliminate wasteful Washington spending.
(2) Every dollar from every program cut would then be put forward for a tax cut vote. We need this component to link Washington spending with the tax burden on Americans. (Since the total amount will likely be minimal. you will probably want to allocate the entire amount to a tax credit of some kind that is used widely by Working Americans.) And that's the key - how Washington spending by Democrats and tax cuts from Republicans help working Americans.
To establish the GOP as the party of accountability, the Cost Containment Commission exercise should be done at the state and local level as well. This is the best way to demonstrate that wasteful spending occurs at every level of government.
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WORDS THAT WORK
It's ironic that our congressional voting cards are about the same size as the credit cards we all carry in our pockets. The spend-now-pay-later credit card addiction runs rampant in Congress. Members of Congress just insert their cards in a slot and run up the nation's bills without worrying about paying them right now. Let somebody else worry about them later.
Yesterday I brought my seven-year-old daughter to the floor. Looking ill her optimistic face, it troubled me to think that Congress is running up massive expenses that will burden her 20 years from now when she's starting her family and her career. Today's spending by Congress will be tomorrow's headaches for your children and mine.
I urge my colleagues to think about the future happiness of our children and the future strength of our country before they vote to increase spending. Let's stop using our voting cards like credit cards to run up the federal deficit. It's time to act responsibly.
-- Congressman Henry Bonilla
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SPENDING LESS, KEEPING MORE: TALKING ABOUT THE BUDGET
For the past 20 years, America has engaged in a great national debate about the role and responsibilities of government. Republicans and Democrats alike have agonized over the proper scope of the state.
The question we have debated so furiously is how best to solve America's problems ... by ceding more power and authority to Washington, D.C., or by retaining it in states and local communities, churches and families.
As Republicans, we have always argued for less centralized, bureaucratic control and more individual freedom. We believe that in affairs of state, it is almost always preferable to err on the side of freedom. The bigger a nation's government, the more it taxes its citizens, the less freedom that society will enjoy. As Republicans, freedom has been our greatest cause, and freedom cannot coexist with a bloated; wasteful, corrupt Washington that inserts its tentacles into every comer of our lives.
It is wrong for the United States government to spend more and more money each year. It is wrong for politicians to load down our children and grandchildren with debt tomorrow so that they can avoid making the hard choices today. It is wrong to continue blindly down the same perilous path we have been on for almost 30 years.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan told us that government was not the solution - government was part of the problem. He pledged to get the government off the backs of the American people, to restore the freedom that alone could make the United States that shining city on a hill once again. He transformed not only the Republican Party but also the entire national debate.
And the basic question that has dominated American politics since Ronald Reagan's election has finally been answered.
We have won the battle of ideas. Political leaders across the aisle understand that while government does many good things, it cannot do everything. Even if big government could solve all of America's problems - which it can't - even if big government didn't threaten individual freedom - which it does - we can 'no longer afford it. A new consensus is emerging - a consensus of common sense and fiscal restraint, born of the realization that our children's future depends on an economy free of crippling deficits and a skyrocketing national debt. As Thomas Jefferson said, "It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debt as it goes."
We have not been paying our own debt as we go. We have been shrugging it off on our children. But we must begin to pay as we go, before it's too late, before we have condemned our children to a lifetime of exorbitant tax rates and bankrupt entitlement programs. As President Hoover sardonically observed, "Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt."
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SPENDING LESS, KEEPING MORE: TALKING ABOUT THE BUDGET (cont.)
It is incumbent on all of us that we step up to the plate and take responsibility for the nation's future.
We have come a long way, but we still have far to go. If we are to ensure the long-term solvency of entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security, provide for homeland security and continue the war against terrorism, and begin to payoff our enormous national debt, then there is much work still ahead of us.
The time has come to set Washington right, now and forever. The time has come to get Washington spending under control, now and forever. To do it right, we begin with the following two principles:
(1) Washington should spend less so that American families can spend more.
(2) If states, localities and non-governmental organizations can do something better than Washington can, they should be given a chance.
Slowly, steadily, we are making progress. Faced with the prospect of government growing larger and larger each year, like a snowball rolling downhill, we have stood in its path, held up our arms, and demanded that it stop.
The passage of President Bush's tax relief program guaranteed that American families will keep more of their hard-earned dollars, that the tax code will no longer penalize couples for marrying, and that the onerous death tax will be phased out.
But everyone knows that more can and should be done. Americans are still taxed too much. Government spending is still wildly out of control. Washington, D.C. still wields too much power and influence over our lives, and the federal government is still far too large.
There is much work to be done, returning power and authority back to states, communities and individuals themselves.
Prosecuting the war on terrorism, providing for homeland defense, reducing the size of the federal government, reforming entitlements, simplifying the tax code -- all of these goals are extremely important, and none of them have been forgotten. But the importance of ending wasteful Washington spending and eventually returning to a balanced budget should not be underestimated.
Every American will feel the practical, real-world effects of a balanced federal budget, through lower interest rates, greater economic growth, and a higher standard of living. Remember, every dollar Washington spends represents a dollar of your hard-earned tax dollars. And every dollar we save means you can deep a dollar more.
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WASHINGTON VERSUS HARD-WORKING AMERICAN FAMILIES
(A speech about who knows what's right for real Americans)
No matter how well intentioned, the federal spending programs in Washington, D.C. feed off your money. Sure, they may be designed in good faith by people who want to help you and think that they are spending those tax dollars for your own good. They think that they have a better idea of how to spend your wages than you do yourself.
I know they're intelligent, patriotic Americans. But for some reason they have more confidence in their own wisdom and their own ability to take care of YOUR family.
Basically, it comes down to trust. The advocates of big Washington spending don't really trust you. They may say that they're for the common man, but really, they think that they know better. They think they can take care of you better than you can take care of yourself.
They doubt the common sense and wisdom of ordinary people. They think that because they live in Washington, they have uncommon intelligence - an intelligence that gives them the right to take an awful Jot of your wages, and then spend them on your behalf, in the name of their version of the greater good.
That's the dirty little secret of the Democrats. They truly believe that the money belongs to the government, rather than to the taxpayers. And not just the money that's collected in taxes. All money. They believe that the taxpayers of this country should be bowing and scraping, thanking the federal government for the percentage of their income it allows them to keep for their families.
Pay attention to the words they use and you'll see what I mean. Their language gives them away every time. Big government advocates will say that "we" - meaning Washington can't afford to “spend" any money on tax cuts. To their backward way of thinking, it's spending when the government taxes Americans less. SPENDING. By their logic, I guess the Democrats would say that a burglar who changes his mind and decides not to rob you is giving you back your money.
It is downright immoral for the federal government to be living off the American people. It is crazy to think that some unknown bureaucrat in a Washington office building will do a better job than you will of deciding how to provide for your children and plan for your future.
This has always been a brave, self-reliant nation. We have always believed in the twin promises of liberty and responsibility. But how can we teach the next generation to take personal responsibility for their lives if the government treats all of us like infants?
Now, I don't know about you, but I find this all rather offensive. The humorist P.J. O'Rourke said, "Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys." And I think there's a bit of truth in that.
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WASHINGTON VERSUS HARDWORKING AMERICAN FAMILIES (cont.)
The bureaucrats and the central planners in Washington may think they're smarter than you, and they may even think they have some kind of special right that entitles them to spend your money, but - just between you and me - they're wrong,
Republicans believe families have a better idea of how to spend their money than does the federal government, thousands of miles away. Washington has a one-size-fits-all mentality. But different families have different needs. In the mind of Washington, every family is alike, and one Washington solution can serve every family equally well.
Well, that's wrong. The hardworking families of this country deserve better. Who cares more for your children, you, or some faceless Washington bureaucrat? Who knows better how to meet your children's needs?
It's difficult to raise a family these days, especially if both parents work. The world is a more complicated, threatening place than it was when I was a kid, and parents struggling to make ends meet and raise their children right deserve every break we can give them. Further tax relief is the least Washington can do to return power and responsibility to those doing the toughest job of all in this country - and the most important one - parenting.
So let me just say to a11 the parents struggling to make ends meet ... burning the candle at both ends to put food on the table and keep a roof overhead… sacrificing their own needs and giving everything they've got to make sure their children have every opportunity for a bright future we hear you.
We recognize that nothing we say or do here is as important as the daily work you undertake, the work of raising the next generation of Americans. We have no more right to take such a large chunk of your paycheck each month than we would to snatch the bread directly from the mouths of your children.
Being a mom or a dad is the most sacred obligation and the most awesome responsibility that anyone can possibly assume. Family is the backbone not only of this nation, but of all civil society. Aristotle observed that the state is made up of households. Without strong households, even a nation as mighty as the United States will surely crumble.
Nothing is more crucial to America's future than strong families. It's time for Washington to exhibit a little humility, and return a little bit of power and authority to these most basic units of society.
Let’s put the days of Washington's one-size-fits-all philosophy behind us. Let's tell Washington to step aside and allow America's families to do their critical work, unhindered. And let's allow all mothers and fathers, when they crawl wearily into bed at night, to be secure in the knowledge that their government will support them rather than blocking their path, and that The American Dream is in reach for them and their children.
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10 "'Fun" Facts about the National Budget
* The National Debt is $7.6 Trillion
* In Fiscal Year 2004 the U.S. government spent $322 billion of YOUR money on interest payments to the holders of the national debt
* If we all decided to pitch in and pay off the first $5 trillion of the federal debt at the rate of $1 per second it would take us around 160,000 years
* A tightly packed· stack of crisp new $1000 bills, totaling $5 billion would be 315 miles tall
* The space shuttle, which orbits at about 240 miles above the earth, would have to go around this “debt stack"
* If we lain 5 trillion dollar bills end to end, our national debt would circle the globe more than 21,000 times
* Each citizen's share of the national debt is about $25,828.68
* Just the interest ALONE on the national debt is the 3rd largest expense in the federal budget
* In 2003 government spending exceeded $20,000 per household
* The national debt has continued to increase an average of $2.05 billion per day since September 30 2004
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