A space alien on Planet Zongo whose cable package includes Meet the Press could watch ten minutes of these pseudo-cliffhangers and figure out how they always end, every time: Spending goes up, and the revenue gap widens. This latest painstakingly negotiated bipartisan deal to restore fiscal responsibility actually includes a third of a trillion dollars in new spending. A third of a trillion! $330,000,000,000! Fancy that! In most countries, a third of a trillion would be a lot of money. But in the U.S. it’s chump change so footling it’s barely mentioned in the news reports. Then there’s the usual sweetheart deals for those with Washington’s ear: $59 million for algae producers, a $20 million tax break if a Hollywood producer shoots part of a movie in a “depressed area” as opposed to a non-depressed area, like Canada. I’m pitching a script to Paramount called “The Algae That Ate Detroit.”
In all the “fiscal cliff” debate, I don’t recall a lot of discussion of algae. But apparently it’s essential to the deal. And don’t worry, it’s paid for by all the new revenue — an estimated $620 billion over a decade, or about $62 billion a year, which is what the government of the United States borrows every 13 days. But don’t worry, that’s a lot of algae.
We’re already broker than anyone has ever been ever. But this is America, where we can always do better — or anyway bigger, and broker: Under the “deal,” the federal debt of the United States in 2022 is officially projected to be $23.9 trillion. That’s in today’s dollars, as opposed to whatever we’ll be loading up the wheelbarrow with in 2022. With “deals” like this, who needs total societal collapse? By 2050, the federal debt will be $58 trillion. But you won’t have to worry about a United States of America by then: It’ll just be one big abandoned Chevy Algaerado plant.