Friday, March 18, 2011

The Budget Debate in Big Macs

One of the things an economist asks is, "Compared to what?" The congress is currently debating continuing resolutions for the current fiscal year. The last CR that passed on Thursday cut spending by $6 billion. Via Instapundit I got to Dan Mitchell who notes that:
This is the budgetary equivalent of going on a diet by leaving a couple of french fries in the bottom of the bag after bingeing on three Big Mac meals at McDonald’s.
Since my local McDonalds has Big Mac's on sale, I thought I'd see what the real comparison is. The budget for the current fiscal year is about $3,800 billion. Using McDonald's nutrition facts I determined that four Big Macs, four Medium French Fries and eight Ketchup Packets add up to 3,800 calories. This is what that looks like:

Cutting 6 calories means cutting out 40% of a Ketchup Packet which looks like this:

The original CR for the rest of the fiscal year, passed by the house and killed by the senate, cut $61 billion. That's 4 Ketchup packets or 16% of one of the Medium French Fries:

Hopefully the pictures provide some perspective on what the debate is all about.

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