Happy days are here again: Obama could spend $23.7 trillion to fix economy

posted at 4:15 pm on July 20, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

People have begun to wonder whether an upper limit exists for the amount of money Barack Obama will spend to overhaul American economics.  Not withstanding popular belief, Treasury’s Special IG Neil Barofsky says that Obama does have a limit at the moment.  Take a deep breath, folks, and try not to squeal with, er, glee:

“The total potential federal government support could reach up to $23.7 trillion,” says Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, in a new report obtained Monday by ABC News on the government’s efforts to fix the financial system.

Yes, $23.7 trillion.

“The potential financial commitment the American taxpayers could be responsible for is of a size and scope that isn’t even imaginable,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “If you spent a million dollars a day going back to the birth of Christ, that wouldn’t even come close to just $1 trillion — $23.7 trillion is a staggering figure.”

Granted, Barofsky is not saying that the government will definitely spend that much money. He is saying that potentially, it could.

At present, the government has about 50 different programs to fight the current recession, including programs to bail out ailing banks and automakers, boost lending and beat back the housing crisis.  Barofsky’s estimate means that if each federal agency spends the maximum potential amount involved in these 50 different initiatives — if the Federal Reserve ends up spending $6.8 trillion on its programs. If the Treasury Department spends $4.4 trillion, if the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation spends $2.3 trillion, and so on — then the numbers add up to a total of $23.7 trillion.

Yeah, don’t worry — government never spends as much money as it allows itself.  Why, that would be like deficit spending, and the Obama administration would never put up with that!

Uh … sure.

The reason Barofsky mentions this is to get Congress to help impose more stringent oversight on Treasury spending.  The statement comes from his report, discussed earlier today, that showed that the hundreds of billions given to financial institutions from the TARP program didn’t get used properly and that no one can tell where all of the money went.  If we allow that to happen with $700 billion, Barofsky argues, how can we spend $23.7 trillion with any hope of accountability or purpose?

I have a better idea.  Let’s stop spending that money and cut our losses now.


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The entire planet and everything in it isn’t worth $23 trillion.

Cicero43 on July 20, 2009 at 4:42 PM

You obviously have never met Becky…Reeeooow!

BobMbx on July 20, 2009 at 4:44 PM

Introducing the newest from the United States Mint……The Obamillion Dollar Bill

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on July 20, 2009 at 4:43 PM

You’ll need fifty of them to buy a loaf of bread.

Cicero43 on July 20, 2009 at 4:44 PM

I can’t even fathom that the man behind the curtain could be right, but I think a lot of people think the economy is in such a bad way that they prefer to think that what the man has done for the economy is going to work rather than face the chilling fact that he could be terribly wrong.

I’m afraid he’s terribly wrong about a lot of things and we haven’t begun to feel the consequences of it yet. I guess that makes me unpatriotic. Or a racist.

I hear Costa Rica is a nice place!

scalleywag on July 20, 2009 at 4:45 PM

Trillion.”

hawksruleva on July 20, 2009 at 4:42 PM

Sasha and Malia say: Daddy… let’s make it a ga-jillion! Let’s go out on the swing and have the servants bring us some jillionaire sized desserts! Yay!

Key West Reader on July 20, 2009 at 4:45 PM

Ginger dollars here we come.

Get yourself a useful trade-skill, you might just need it.

Bishop on July 20, 2009 at 4:45 PM

I’ve got my wheelbarrow ready to push a load of ‘Bama bucks to the store.

ICBM on July 20, 2009 at 4:46 PM

Let’s cut Obama and Biden, both total losses/total losers.

Until we face the fact that Democrat politicians are not the solution BUT THE ENTIRE PROBLEM, we will be in this mess.

NoDonkey on July 20, 2009 at 4:46 PM

That number is eight times the US GDP.

Vashta.Nerada on July 20, 2009 at 4:17 PM

Oops – eight times the current federal budget; only two times our GDP. I feel much better……….

Vashta.Nerada on July 20, 2009 at 4:46 PM

Get yourself a useful trade-skill, you might just need it.

Bishop on July 20, 2009 at 4:45 PM

My new street name – Rat Skinner

BobMbx on July 20, 2009 at 4:46 PM

I thought they were tents..

ted c on July 20,2009 at 4:41PM.

ted c: haha,moo moo dress!:)

canopfor on July 20, 2009 at 4:46 PM

I hear Costa Rica is a nice place!

We will have to see, there are still a few “freedom fighters” left in Gitmo, you know

runner on July 20, 2009 at 4:47 PM

I’ve got my wheelbarrow ready to push a load of ‘Bama bucks to the store.

ICBM on July 20, 2009 at 4:46 PM

Holy cow. Obamadollah.

New currency!

Key West Reader on July 20, 2009 at 4:47 PM

We could just sell California to China.

Bishop on July 20, 2009 at 4:39 PM

good start, lets not forget massachussetts, NY,MI,IL, and any other 3rd world state I’d like to get rid of, give them GM too.and GE,…

UNREPENTANT CONSERVATIVE CAPITOLIST on July 20, 2009 at 4:47 PM

I thought they were tents..

ted c on July 20,2009 at 4:41PM.

Fashions By Omar, the Tent Maker

BobMbx on July 20, 2009 at 4:48 PM

My ass. It bleeds.

lorien1973 on July 20, 2009 at 4:17 PM

Better get that checked out before ObamaCare kicks in.

txag92 on July 20, 2009 at 4:19 PM

AHAHAHA

scalleywag on July 20, 2009 at 4:49 PM

I believe at this point we’d have a huge rally if BO simply shut up and got out of the way.

Oink on July 20, 2009 at 4:49 PM

Holy cow. Obamadollah.

New currency!

Key West Reader on July 20, 2009 at 4:47 PM

Show me the moolah.

ICBM on July 20, 2009 at 4:49 PM

Cramer has his show. Obama has his.

Mad Marxist Money

faraway on July 20, 2009 at 4:51 PM

I guess we should learn to like porridge. It should only cost a couple million.

scalleywag on July 20, 2009 at 4:52 PM

“The Cure is Worse than the Disease”

Many of us here on HotAir said as much when TARP started rolling around.

But pay no mind to us … we don’t exactly mirror the average voter.

HondaV65 on July 20, 2009 at 4:53 PM

Well this makes total sense. Joe said, just last week, that we need to spend more money so that we, er, don’t go bankrupt?

Sounds like people that I know who declare bankruptcy, their lawyers tell them to go out and charge the max on their credit cards, get that new 60″ Flat Screen Plasma TV….and just walk away from your debt.

How the hell are be going to walk away from CHINA???

PappaMac on July 20, 2009 at 4:53 PM

I believe at this point we’d have a huge rally if BO simply shut up and got out of the way.

Oink on July 20, 2009 at 4:49 PM

The Market actually is pretending that none of this is happening. They have been moving up for the last week. The next bubble to burst is going to make a really big bang.

thomasaur on July 20, 2009 at 4:53 PM

Don’t worry folks! The politics of change are here! Why as soon as Obama cuts the budget by a whopping $100 million, we’ll be back to good in no time!

Rightwingguy on July 20, 2009 at 4:54 PM

txag92 on July 20, 2009 at 4:19 PM

Obamacare: Bend over and don’t worry. This won’t hurt…..much.

Rightwingguy on July 20, 2009 at 4:55 PM

I miss the Lewinski days, good times…mmm, good times. Talking about The One’s F-ups are just too damn scary.

silenced majority on July 20, 2009 at 4:55 PM

from the urban dictionary, and your lying if you dont see any similarities.

nigger rich
(adj.) a derogatory term used to refer to a selfishly extravagant person who has no prospects of ever paying off the debts they incur. (Esp. someone whose sole purchasing power comes from disreputable credit cards or drugs.)
Q: Where the hell did he get those rims? He works at f***ing McDonalds!
A: He copped some credit cards and now he’s nigger rich

UNREPENTANT CONSERVATIVE CAPITOLIST on July 20, 2009 at 4:55 PM

ICBM on July 20, 2009 at 4:46 PM

Hey just make sure someone doesn’t steal the wheelbarrow.

Rightwingguy on July 20, 2009 at 4:56 PM

You’ll need fifty of them to buy a loaf of bread.

Cicero43 on July 20, 2009 at 4:44 PM

Tru dat.

Obama: Trading Hopenchange for a Weimar Republic

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on July 20, 2009 at 4:56 PM

cleanup at 4:55

faraway on July 20, 2009 at 4:57 PM

How the hell are be going to walk away from CHINA???

PappaMac on July 20, 2009 at 4:53 PM

vewwy vewwy quietly

scalleywag on July 20, 2009 at 4:58 PM

Come on, people, pay attention to what really matters.

The new Harry Potter film grossed $400 million.

Michael Jackson was possibly murdered.

Walter Cronkite is dead.

guntotinglibertarian on July 20, 2009 at 4:58 PM

if the Federal Reserve ends up spending $6.8 trillion on its programs. If the Treasury Department spends $4.4 trillion, if the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation spends $2.3 trillion, and so on — then the numbers add up to a total of $23.7 trillion.

Forgive me if I’m mathematically challenged, but the three figures quoted for the Fed, the Treasury, and FDIC add up to $13.5 trillion. Has Barofsky found OTHER agencies that are going to spend an additional $10.2 trillion? Who are they, and where is the money going?

We need to know, even if Obama doesn’t care. It’s only paper.

Steve Z on July 20, 2009 at 5:00 PM

That’s a lot of ham.

faraway on July 20, 2009 at 5:02 PM

Obamacare: Bend over and don’t worry. This won’t hurt…..much.

Rightwingguy on July 20, 2009 at 4:55 PM

Like a daily prostate exam?

New credit card commercial: What’s in your wallet?

Nothin’! Obama took it all !

Steve Z on July 20, 2009 at 5:04 PM

Clerk at Payday Loanz office: “Well, Mr…..Obama?…um, I just need to see a driver’s license.”

Obama: “I don’t have my driver’s license with me.”

Clerk: “Oh. Well…how about a birth certificate?”

guntotinglibertarian on July 20, 2009 at 5:07 PM

Let’s not fool ourselves with the “fix the economy” stuff. I agree that Obama could spend $23.7 trillion before he’s done, but he won’t be fixing the economy. More like leaving it beyond repair.

Tonus on July 20, 2009 at 5:10 PM

“I’ll tell you like you told me, cash rules everything around me sayin dolla dolla bill y’all”.

Conservican on July 20, 2009 at 5:13 PM

Come on, people, pay attention to what really matters.

The new Harry Potter film grossed $400 million.

Michael Jackson was possibly murdered.

Walter Cronkite is dead.

guntotinglibertarian on July 20, 2009 at 4:58 PM

Harry Potter is pretend.

Michael Jackson is dead.

Walter Cronkite is ditto.

But Elvis told me to tell you… HE WON!

Yoop on July 20, 2009 at 5:18 PM

I just finished a book on the Salem Witch Trials, The Heretic’s Daughter. It is about sane, ordinary people behaving in ways that were insane. Eventually the people of community of Salem and its environs came to their senses, but not until dozens of people had lost their lives and dozens more had lost their property.

In some ways, this whole thing makes me think of that time. After all, 23.7 trillion is insane, it is crazy, that would turn the US into a third world country. Hopefully people will wake up to that before it is too late.

Terrye on July 20, 2009 at 5:18 PM

I predict another IG firing because of mental issues shortly…

noodle on July 20, 2009 at 5:31 PM

“I must destroy America in order to save her…” – B.Obama

Wyznowski on July 20, 2009 at 5:40 PM

I just finished a book on the Salem Witch Trials, The Heretic’s Daughter. It is about sane, ordinary people behaving in ways that were insane. Eventually the people of community of Salem and its environs came to their senses, but not until dozens of people had lost their lives and dozens more had lost their property.

In some ways, this whole thing makes me think of that time. After all, 23.7 trillion is insane, it is crazy, that would turn the US into a third world country. Hopefully people will wake up to that before it is too late.

Terrye on July 20, 2009 at 5:18 PM

I wouldn’t bet on it, because financially we may have already passed the threshold of no return.

DFCtomm on July 20, 2009 at 6:00 PM

How many zeros is that?? At what point would it be better to just send us all checks for thousands of dollars?? Are we not getting close to that?? Isn’t this an example of just how insane this is becoming??

JellyToast on July 20, 2009 at 6:16 PM

Forgive me if I’m mathematically challenged, but the three figures quoted for the Fed, the Treasury, and FDIC add up to $13.5 trillion. Has Barofsky found OTHER agencies that are going to spend an additional $10.2 trillion? Who are they, and where is the money going?

We need to know, even if Obama doesn’t care. It’s only paper.

Steve Z on July 20, 2009 at 5:00 PM

That’s just the money that goes missing from all the people skimming. That or the 0ne is paying back with interest all the Oil countries that donated to his campaign.
That is an unbelievable amount of $. The 0ne could buy his own planet to rule over with that much.

4shoes on July 20, 2009 at 6:36 PM

The total amount of USD in worldwide circulation is approximately $900B. My calculator does go that high, but just rounding off to $24T (why not?) that comes to about 28 times all the dollars there are.

What could go wrong?

P.S. I bought a $100ZB bill on eBay last month for kicks. Cost: $6.95 USD.

Hucklebuck on July 20, 2009 at 6:40 PM

Should read “$100B ZD bill”.

Gee,and to think I felt bad when the figure was $12 – 13T – representing about 14 times all the dollars in existance. Clearly, I’ve underestimated these guys.

Hucklebuck on July 20, 2009 at 6:43 PM

None of this insanity would be possible with a gold standard. That $23.7 trillion is not actual wealth. There is no wealth like that in the US or anywhere else. That is just $23.7 trillion worth of coupons obama will print, coupons that will have no value, and consequently, the coupons you already have and worked for? They will be worth nothing now as well.

keep the change on July 20, 2009 at 7:25 PM

Come on Ed, What’s 23.7 trillion worth these days. Its not like its real money. At least it isn’t real money anymore.

The_Lid on July 20, 2009 at 7:51 PM

Wow – $23.7 trillion?? Just cut checks for the poorer half of all adults in the US–they’d each get over $200K. Imagine what a boost to the economy and a fix for the housing market and unemployment that would be! The recipients would be spending like crazy and since no one would want to work, wages would go through the roof. And who would need nationalized health care?

TwoCents on July 20, 2009 at 8:03 PM

we are in deep kim chee. smoke and mirrors can’t defy the laws of economics. we will either see our market collapse or runaway inflation. i think the latter, which the administration will do in an attempt to try and manage our astounding debt. either way it will destroy massive amounts of wealth in this country. brace yourselves folks, this is going to get really ugly.

golfballs03 on July 20, 2009 at 11:36 PM

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