Alan Simpson: What is a Trillion Dollars?

This week I was on set for CNBC’s Fast Money show in New Jersey when we cut away to a live interview between Steve Liesman, Lloyd Blankfein (Goldman Sachs) and the legendary vaudeville comedy duo Simpson & Bowles, who’ve been tasked with helping congress resolve the national debt debacle.

Here’s Alan Simpson, the Wyoming Senator who may or may not be 114 years old, launching into his magnificent description of what a trillion dollars is:

STEVE LIESMAN: Senator, if you were in a position now to be advising both candidates, what would you have them say now about the deficit, particularly in light there’s a vice presidential debate this evening. What would you like to hear from them?

ALAN SIMPSON: Well, I think I’d want to tell them what a trillion bucks is. I know that’s a silly exercise. Just say– well, let me tell you something about us– this country. If you spend a– if you spend a buck a second, you wouldn’t hit a trillion for 32,500 years. And if you spend a million a day since the birth of Christ, you wouldn’t be at a trillion. And the big bang theory of the universe happened 13 billion 600 million years ago, that ain’t even close to a trillion. And we owe 16 of those babies! So start thinking. And then you’re going to borrow $3,600,000,000 a day, every day. You’re going to do that today, tomorrow. Every buck you spend, you borrow 41 cents. And I would say, “Will one of you– let a peep out of yourself of what you’re going to do about that and to restore the solvency of Social Security without letting the A.A.R.P. tear your leg off or Grover Norquist on the other side rip the other let.

Simpson is in beast mode right now; after years of trying to get congress to wake up, the cliff itself is now in sight.


Transcript (CNBC)

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