Why government savings are just pennies on the dollar

Our federal budget deficit is $1,000 billion dollars each year, year in and year out, as far as the eye can see.  This is an annuity in reverse, every year, on into the future.  After five years, we will have accumulated $5,000 billion of debt.  After 10 years, $10,000 billion of debt.  You get the picture.

So what is the federal government doing about this?  They are looking for ways to reduce spending.  But here is the curious part.  When they find a suitable candidate for expense reduction, they always multiply the savings by 10 and call it a savings over 10 years.  As in a $250 billion reduction in educational expenses over 10 years.  And when we hear of their accomplishment, we are so excited about the $250 billion number that we fail to pay attention.  We never see or hear the part about over 10 years.

And it sounds like a pretty good effort. After all, we are saving $250 billon compared to a deficit of $1,000 billion.  It feels like we are taking a solid chunk out of our annual deficit.

But are we really?   Closer reading, and listening, reveals a painful truth.  The $250 billion in savings is spread over10 years.  In actuality, we are saving only $25 billion each year. 

In other words we are not reducing our annual deficit by 25%.  No, we are reducing it by a mere 2.5%.

And this, after all, is just pennies on the dollar.

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About Howard Zien
Howard P. Zien is the president of Business Logic Incorporated. He has been in the consulting and software development field since the early 1970s. A graduate of Princeton University, Howard earned an MBA in accounting and finance from New York University's Stern School of Business.

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