“Today’s interest rates are favorable, but that could change and costs could balloon,” says Matthew Helm, manager of research & analysis at the foundation.
Another way to view the $1.2 trillion deficit is in terms of citizens and households. It works out to $4,000 per citizen, or $10,000 per household, according to Mr. Helm.
Yet another way to look at the massive deficit is in terms of what it would buy. For example, $1.2 trillion would cover the total annual cost of the education system in the US from kindergarten through college and still leave enough left over to buy six computers for every child under the age of 19.
That huge sum of money could also help children in another way. It would buy 20 gallons of milk for each child under the age of 19 for the next 15 years, according to Chris Galen, a spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation in Washington.
But, most kids would probably rather have a computer game, such as a Wii, instead of all that milk. And they could all have one – the deficit could buy 4.8 billion Wiis or 6 billion “Guitar Hero” games – enough for nearly everyone on the planet.
Of course, not all parents will think that’s such a great idea. “Why not encourage your kids to truly exercise or learn to play a real guitar?” asked Joyce Greenberg, mother of a Wii-less 13-year-old girl, in New York City.
Perhaps on a less controversial note, the money could pay for gasoline expenses for all Americans for the next five years. “It would not only pay for a lot of gasoline, but it would also insure a lot of people without access to medical coverage,” says Geoff Sundstrom, a spokesman for AAA in Heathrow, Fla.