One Trillion Dollars!


The bailout of the banking industry–which seems to be calming traders–could cost you $1,000,000,000,000. Yes, that's the right number of zeros.

Congressional leaders said after meeting Thursday evening with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that as much as $1 trillion could be needed to avoid an imminent meltdown of the U.S. financial system. 

Paulson announced plans Friday morning for a "bold approach" that will cost hundreds of billions of dollars. At a news conference at Treasury headquarters, he called for a "temporary asset relief program" to take bad mortgages off the books of the nation's financial institutions. Congressional leaders had left Washington on Friday, but Paulson planned to confer with them over the weekend.

"We're talking hundreds of billions," Paulson told reporters. "This needs to be big enough to make a real difference and get to the heart of the problem."

Makes sense. AIG had a trillion dollars in assets before this week. But if this was a serious country, wouldn't this prompt Obama and McCain to stop talking about how they're going to spend more of our money? All we hear from this is some babbling about firing Chris Cox and blaming the other guy for having the wrong advisors. Oh, and insisting they were right all along.

Earlier this year, a lot of people noticed that an election between a non-white Democrat who upset the frontrunner and an old moderate Republican mirrored the final election in the TV series The West Wing. In the episode "The Cold," President Jed Bartlet summons Democrat Matt Santos and Republican Arnold Vinick into the Oval Office to inform that that he's going to be spending a (paltry-sounding) $70 billion on a defensive war in Kazakhstan.

What's this going to cost?

It depends on how long we stay.

It doesn't matter. The first 100 days in office are the most productive of the whole term and there's no way we can extricate ourselves from from something like this in three months. It's not about the money. You're blowing any political capital we might have by forcing us to fight a war.

Do we have an estimate?

First twelve months: 70 billion.

I can say goodbye to my tax cut. Your education plan is certainly off the table.

Ah, fiction.