$8.5 Trillion Doesn't Buy What It Used To

Current bailouts dwarf most of U.S. history

By Scott Ross
|  Monday, Dec 15, 2008  |  Updated 10:52 AM PDT
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Cost of Doing Business

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt wasn't afraid to throw money at a problem, but the current administration makes him look like a tightwad.

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As the government tries to spend its way out of the Great Recession, the total bill being rung up is mind-boggling. But how does it compare to some of the other great public works projects in the nation's history?

 
In November, it was announced that $600 billion was being spent to help lower mortgage rates, $200 billion for consumer loans and nearly $300 billion to help the ailing mega-bank Citigroup.
 
Estimates are that at this point we've committed $8.5 trillion -- or half of the United States' 2008 Gross national Product -- to bailing out various sectors of the economy. Of that money, $4.6165 trillion is just to revive our credit markets.
 
For some context, that tab exceeds the total adjusted-for-inflation cost of World War II, the Marshall Plan, the Louisiana Purchase, the Race to the Moon, the S&L Crisis, the Korean War, the New Deal, the Invasion of Iraq, the Vietnam War and NASA combined.  Yes, combined. 
 
Those adventures and expenditures cost $7.52 trillion combined, according to Jim Bianco of Bianco Research, nearly a trillion less than the current fiasco. 

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