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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Drop in the Bucket? See for Yourself.

In our "What’s in a Number" post on May 7, we noted a clever video by Salt Lake City software developer Matt Shapiro, showing how little $100 million in savings would amount to when compared with the $3.6 trillion in federal spending being proposed by President Obama (about one-quarter of a penny on the scale of the budget being equal to $100.)

Now Matt has come up with a second video to help us wrap our brains around the latest figures. What would it really mean if Obama gets the $17 billion in spending cuts he’s now proposing, compared with the $3.552 trillion budget he proposed in February? Matt shows us here:

We’ve checked the numbers, and they are accurate with one small exception. By our figuring, Obama’s budget works out to nearly 12 gallons more than Bush’s original $3.107 trillion budget for fiscal 2009. (We checked with Matt, and he agrees his 9-gallon figure is too low. Update, May 16: Matt quickly inserted some text in his video noting that the true figure is 12 gallons and so "the difference is actually bigger than you see here." ) But his main point is still valid: Obama’s proposed increase in spending dwarfs the two liters’ worth of economies he now proposes.

Thanks to Matt’s helpful images, you don’t have to be an accountant to grasp the size of the budget problem.