Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How much is $100 Million?

Let me open by saying there is absolutely nothing partisan about this post. I think the government has grown too large and too intrusive under administrations of every party. This is just math, not political science.

Yesterday the President held his first Cabinet meeting, and his PR folks announced that he had directed the various Cabinet secretaries to find, over the next 90 days, $100 million in budget savings.

Sounds impressive, right? After all, $100 million is a lot of money to most of us. Just mention the figure, and folks will start daydreaming about what they would do if they had a $100 million. (Personally, my first thought is that I'd like to buy an NHL franchise. Turns out I couldn't get one for $100 million...Not even the Phoenix Coyotes.)

With $100 million you could:

-- Feed 120,000 children for a year;

-- Buy yourself a new Rolls-Royce every day for six weeks

-- Provide health insurance for a year to 140,000 Americans

-- Buy your own fleet of 8 LearJet 45s

So it seems like we're talking about a lot of money.

But when you're talking about the federal government, it's important to understand that $100 million is NOTHING. And I do mean NOTHING.

$100 million is the amount of money the federal government spends EVERY 13 MINUTES!

$100 million is 1/260th of the budget of Massachusetts;

$100 million is ONE DAY of interest on the money borrowed for the "stimulus bill" that passed earlier this year;

$100 million is less than half the cost of one F-22 fighter plane;

Let's boil it down to personal terms. Let's say you make $80,000 a year. How much money would you have to cut out of your budget to equal the federal government cutting $100 million out of its budget?

Two bucks.

Yes, that's right. $2 is to $80,000 as $100 million is to the federal budget.

The day after the White House announced its $100 million cut, the President signed a new funding bill for AmeriCorps, the ridiculous program under which we pay young people to do volunteer work. (How is it "volunteer" work if the government is paying you for it? Different question, different blog post.) The cost of the bill? $5.7 billion, or 57 times the amount of budget cuts ordered by the President on Monday.

It's all just something to keep in mind the next time you hear a politician call for a tax increase, or insist that the budget has been "cut to the bone."


  1. I wonder if this 100 million will be saved or sliced from the budget. More likely it will be shifted to somewhere within the federal government and spent on useless programs and we'll never know it ever happened.

  2. It's so clear - and so simple - what a sham this BIG budget cut truly is..................so scary that the public still actually puts any trust in our federal government at all!!!! Am afraid of what is going to take to wake all the complacent people up and return to a true Reagan conservative government......