My Budget’s That Big, Depending On How You Measure It
Barack Obama’s budget is big. I mean, huge. It just, you know, dangles there over all of our heads. I didn’t even know budgets got that big. I mean, I’d heard stories that black presidents had ones that big, but I always figured that was just a myth.
Republicans, however, have seen it, and they have no idea what to even say about it.
GOP message mavens are struggling with something that academics call “insensitivity to scope.” It affects us all; we can understand something on a small scale but have a difficult time comprehending the same thing on a massive scale.
It’s true: after a certain point, it being bigger doesn’t much matter. There’s only so much you can fit all at once.
Republicans are facing that obstacle as they try to explain the dimensions of Obama’s spending plan. The GOP pollster told me he tries to explain it by asking people to think of a dollar as a second — one dollar, one brief tick of your watch. A million seconds, the pollster explained, equals eleven days. A billion seconds equals 31 years. And a trillion seconds equals 310 centuries.
Or like a Coke bottle. Or a really, reaaaaaaaaaaally long banana.
In the end, it is becoming clearer and clearer that, as the deficit projections rise, the president is betting the fiscal health of the nation on his ability to enact universal, or near-universal, health care and, in the process of extending expensive health coverage to millions of currently uninsured Americans, actually save money for the taxpayers. It’s the biggest bet in generations, and its outcome will determine not only the fate of Obama’s presidency, but the nation’s fiscal future as well.