Politico reports House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) didn’t rule out the the idea of a second stimulus package and said Wednesday he would be willing to sit down with the White House and congressional Democrats to discuss any new emergency spending proposals.

Citing the current economic crisis, Cantor acknowledged: “You have to.”

The Richmond congressman said, though, that he would only support a bill that differed from the first stimulus and included additional tax cuts for small businesses.

Meanwhile, many others on Capitol Hill express ignorance when a second stimulus package is mentioned. Our question is: If there aren’t results from a first stimulus package, why try for a second? Won’t it only drop us deeper into the black hole of debt?

But while Congress is now throwing around the words “Billions and Billions” like Carl Sagan used to a quarter century ago when talking about the vast expanses of the universe, the new buzzword is Trillion. Already several trillion dollars have been authorized when you add up the TARP funds, the Citibank and AIG and Auto Bailout Money, and the Recovery Act of 2009. Unfortunately, Americans aren’t screaming about this as loudly as they should be, mostly because a trillion of anything is far beyond our comprehension as a species to understand. We’re discussing and throwing numbers around in our media like we understand them, but in reality the concepts a billion and trillion represent are so vast they are normally only used when discussing phenomenon out in space in our universe.

When you think about the vast distances of space, the farthest planet out there in our Solar System, now named Neptune instead of Pluto, is two billion miles away. It took Voyager 2 fourteen years to get there flying at 50,000 Miles an Hour. If there was a planet One Trillion Miles away, well, that’s 998 Billion miles past Neptune. If Voyager 2 was headed that way, it wouldn’t get there for another 7000 years.

Like I said, a trillion of anything is a number really beyond our comprehension. So let me try and give you a visual understanding in terms of dollars from an email I received from a friend of mine.

We’ll start with a $100 dollar bill. Currently the largest U.S. denomination in general circulation. Most everyone has seen them, slightly fewer have owned them. Guaranteed to make friends wherever they go.

A packet of one hundred $100 bills is less than 1/2″ thick and contains $10,000. Fits in your pocket easily and is more than enough for a week or two of shamefully decadent fun.

Believe it or not, this next little pile is $1 million dollars (100 packets of $10,000). You could stuff that into a grocery bag and walk around with it.

While a measly $1 million looked a little unimpressive, $100 million is a little more respectable. It fits neatly on a standard pallet…

And $1 BILLION dollars… now we’re really getting somewhere… Remember, these stacks are made up of $100 bills.

Next we’ll look at ONE TRILLION dollars. This is that number we’ve been hearing about so much. What is a trillion dollars? Well, it’s a million million. It’s a thousand billion. It’s a one followed by 12 zeros. Are you ready for this? It’s really surprising. Ladies and gentlemen… I give you $1 trillion dollars…

(And notice those pallets are double stacked.)
So the next time you hear someone toss around the phrase “trillion dollars”… that’s what they’re talking about. It’s a number so big, you could not spend by yourself in your lifetime. You could not spend the interest on a trillion dollars at the rate of just 1% a year in your lifetime. So HOW are we ever going to pay this money back, let alone pay back the waste of all the interest we’re going to have to pay on this?

Think about that, and then call your Representatives and Senators.

Thanks for reading.

-Matthew S. Urdan

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