And that’s just enough to get us through the 2012 elections.
(Weekly Standard) — President Obama repeatedly insists that the debt ceiling must be raised by at least $2.4 trillion. Why this particular amount, rather than, say, an even $1 trillion or $2 trillion? Because $2.4 trillion is Obama’s estimate for what it would take to get him through the next election without needing to deal with another debt ceiling battle. In other words, $2.4 trillion is a politically generated figure.
It’s hard to conceptualize sums as vast as $2,400,000,000,000.00 in newly borrowed money, new deficit spending, and new debt. How much, really, is it? Well, even after adjusting for inflation, it’s about the same amount of money that we borrowed to fight World War II.
According to the White House Historical Tables, at the end of 1941, our debt — in 2011 dollars — was $0.8 trillion. By the end of 1945, it was $3.3 trillion, a difference of $2.5 trillion. (If you start the clock at the end of 1940, our debt increased by $2.6 trillion by the end of 1945, but that includes 15 months — 11 before Pearl Harbor and 4 after V-J Day — when we weren’t at war.) In other words, in inflation adjusted dollars, Obama wants to borrow and spend about the same amount of money to get from August 2, 2011 through November 6, 2012 as we borrowed and spent to fight the Axis powers on two fronts from December 7, 1941 to August 15, 1945.