Remember, this is the government which delivers the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports each month. Some of the most superb science fiction since Jules Verne and Kurt Vonnegut first put ink on paper.
This is an ABC news story I stumbled onto. I snipped the following quote directly from the article. "The US Treasury Department is seeking to borrow $444 billion in the current quarter. The latest estimate of borrowing plans for the January-March period would make this quarter the fifth highest for government borrowing. That's because of the very large budget deficit." Source: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/irs-delays-refunds-morning-business-memo-121816654--abc-news.html
Now here's a first paragraph snippet from Andrew Taylor of the Associated Press in a different story on the very same day. WASHINGTON (AP) — A new budget report released Tuesday predicts the U.S. government will run a $1.1 trillion deficit in the fiscal year that ends in September, a slight dip from last year but still very high by any measure.
Here is the original piece. http://news.yahoo.com/us-budget-deficit-dip-1-1t-152358458.html
So I scratched my head because a 444 billion loan translates into something more like a 1.8 trillion dollar annual deficit if extrapolated out.
Yet here is the AP piece telling us that this year's deficit for 2012 (I am assuming this is a Congressional Budget Office sourced article although most bloggers do a better job of quoting sources than Taylor does) is only going to be 1.1 trillion.
So the gov borrowed 322 billion. Ok, let's see here. A paltry 322 billion + a slightly less paltry 444 billion this quarter equals 766 billion borrowed so far for the 2012 budget year. So the truth lies somewhere in between the extrapolated 1.8 trillion and Taylor's 1.1 trillion but it certainly appears that the deficit cannot be either of those two numbers.
Taylor will be correct if in fact the government- quite suddenly- only borrows 167 billion in each of the two remaining quarters of 2012. Or if bond yields stay low.
The interest on last year's (2011) debt alone was 463 billion. http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/ir/ir_expense.htm
So people are confused by big numbers. They don't stop to think that a trillion is a thousand billion. Most folks probably think that a trillion is about how much Mitt Romney paid for one of his castles and a Range Rover. Or more accurately- they simply don't give a shit. When I see an article claiming that this year's 1.1 trillion dollar deficit is less than last year's- I get miffed. Not only is it presented like it is good news- it is patent bullshit. You can't even get to the truth because writers don't cite specific sources and gawd knows Washington has about five different agencies spewing
You know what? Maybe I'm too hard on writers like Taylor. Maybe he is just as confused as the rest of us. I think the government likes it that way. They'd probably hire Verne or Vonnegut and call them technical writers.