Chamblee54

A Trillion Dollars

Posted in Library of Congress, Politics by chamblee54 on October 20, 2021









This is a repost, with pictures from The Library of Congress. The full text of one section is available, and has amusing stories about Richard Nixon and Antonin Scalia. This feature is about the national debt. When BHO took office, the annual federal budget deficit was over a trillion dollars. According to this source, the annual deficit is now $439 billion. This is more than the total national debt that the late Everett Dirkson was losing sleep over in the sixties. Nonetheless, it is considerably less than the deficit when BHO took office. BHO, bless his drone firing heart, is given credit for reducing the deficit more than any POTUS in history.

… The last quote is from another POTUS who is no longer with us, Ronald Reagan.
“I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself.” Mr. Reagan was a professional actor, and he knew the value of a good script.
This slogan is another one that Mr. Obama may find handy. It should be noted that it was a big deal when the national debt (the grand total of the deficits) went over a trillion dollars. This was during the first term of Mr. Reagan. Today, under Mr. Obama, the annual deficit is over a trillion dollars. Sooner or later, you are talking about real money.

PG suffered brain damage trying to find out more about the quote from Mr. Reagan. He went through six pages of google. There must be 25 sites which have lists of quotes from Mr. Reagan, and all of them feature this quote. None have an actual source.

What was the context? When did he first say it? One site says it was “(during the latter years of his administration)”. Another site says it was “Said often during his presidency, 1981-1989”. Maybe this is an urban legend. As Mr. Reagan said, don’t believe everything you read on the internet.









Those of a certain age remember Everett Dirksen. A Republican Senator from Illinois, he was blessed with an operatic voice, and cursed with a face that could stop a clock. He is credited (or blamed) for the quote ” A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.” The Dirksen Congressional Center can neither confirm nor deny if he really said that. The discussion of this reputed quote does turn up a passage, that is germane to today’s conversation.
“One time in the House of Representatives [a colleague] told me a story about a proposition that a teacher put to a boy. He said, ‘Johnny, a cat fell in a well 100 feet deep. Suppose that cat climbed up 1 foot and then fell back 2 feet. How long would it take the cat to get out of the well?’
“Johnny worked assiduously with his slate and slate pencil for quite a while, and then when the teacher came down and said, ‘How are you getting along?’ Johnny said, ‘Teacher, if you give me another slate and a couple of slate pencils, I am pretty sure that in the next 30 minutes I can land that cat in hell. If some people get any cheer out of a $328 billion debt ceiling, I do not find much to cheer about concerning it.” [Congressional Record, June 16, 1965, p. 13884].

Senator Dirksen went to the fundraising dinner in the sky September 7, 1969. Twelve years later, the Reagan revolution was getting started. Taxes were cut, and spending increased. In a couple of years, the national debt went over a trillion dollars. (The annual budget deficit is now over a trillion dollars.) For those new to the game, a trillion is a billion, multiplied by a thousand. For all the numbers above, multiply by a thousand, to get a trillion.

In 1965, Senator Dirksen was losing sleep, over raising the national debt to $328 billion. The current national debt is estimated at $16,964,687,666,420. This is 5171% of 328 billion.


In 1965, the national debt was $328 billion, and we were losing 100 men every week in Vietnam. One of the more expensive things the government does is fight wars. Currently we are officially killing people in Afghanistan, and several more countries that no one knows about (nudge wink).
On September 11, 2001, The United States was attacked. Revenge was the order of the day. There are now indications that this was one of the goals of Al Queda. The Soviet Union imploded, in large part, because of the strain of fighting a war in Afghanistan. Now, the United States is waist deep in the same big muddy. Whoever is elected in 2016 will have to deal with this matter.

Afghanistan has a gross national product of $27 billion. The Congressional Research Service estimates the cost of American operations in Afghanistan for 2011 to be $119 billion. This is over four times the gross national product of Afghanistan. Pretty soon, you are talking about real money.








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