Federal Deficit Disorder: $1 Trillion Cases Reported

Last Updated Jul 14, 2009 10:43 AM EDT

While everyone was hyper-focused on Goldman Sachs' second-quarter earnings (they were great, in case you didn't hear), I was busy trying to remember how many zeros are in one trillion. The answer is one trillion is the number one, followed by 12 zeros, or 1,000,000,000,000.

The trillion question came up when the Treasury Department reported that the US federal budget deficit busted through $1 trillion in June, the ninth month of fiscal 2009. The culprit is the recession, of course. When individuals and businesses make less, tax receipts drop. Add to that the spike in stimulus spending and government bail out money and you get to $1 trillion. The White House has predicted that the deficit will climb to over $1.8 trillion this fiscal year, which would be the largest deficit (based on percentage of GDP) since the end of World War II.

Check out this chart from this morning's Wall Street Journal:


Examining this numbers, it's no wonder that lawmakers are trying to figure out just who will be paying for health care reform. Some House democrats think it would be a great idea to have wealthy taxpayers foot at least half the estimated cost of a new health care system. The battle lines are just beginning to be drawn, but one thing is clear: get used to writing twelve zeros.

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    Jill Schlesinger, CFP®, is the Emmy-nominated, Business Analyst for CBS News. She covers the economy, markets, investing and anything else with a dollar sign on TV, radio (including her nationally syndicated radio show), the web and her blog, "Jill on Money." Prior to her second career at CBS, Jill spent 14 years as the co-owner and Chief Investment Officer for an independent investment advisory firm. She began her career as a self-employed options trader on the Commodities Exchange of New York, following her graduation from Brown University.