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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

HERE'S YOUR DEBT

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Having a hard time visually the national debt? How about this..... the pile of debt would stretch beyond the stratosphere.

Most people have trouble conceptualizing $14.3 trillion.

Stan Collender, a budget expert at Qorvis Communications, said the biggest sum most Americans have ever handled -- in real or play money -- is the $15,140 in the original, standard Monopoly board game.

Here are some other metrics for understanding the size of the national debt and United States borrowing:

* U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said the United States borrows about $125 billion per month.

With that amount, the United States could buy each of its more than 300 million residents an Apple Inc * In a 31-day month, that means the United States borrows about $4 billion per day.France for present-day Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa and the rest of the land obtained by the 1803 Louisiana Purchase.

A stack of dimes equivalent to that amount would wrap all the way around the Earth with change to spare.

* In one hour, the United States borrows about $168 million, more than it paid to buy Alaska in 1867, converted to today's dollars.

In two hours, the United States borrows more than it paid

* The U.S. government borrows more than $40,000 per second. That's more than the cost of a year's tuition, room and board at many universities.

"That usually gets their attention," Doug Holtz-Eakin, who was chief White House economist under President George W. Bush, said in an email. "I have two kids, so every 10 seconds, the feds borrow more than I paid lifetime."

* The Congressional Budget Office projects the total budget deficit in fiscal 2011 at about $1.4 trillion.

"The net worth of Bill Gates, roughly around $56 billion, could only cover the deficit for 15 days," said Jason Peuquet, a policy analyst with the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. "The net worth of Warren Buffet, roughly around $50 billion, could only cover the deficit for 13 days."

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