This week Congress wrapped up the year by passing several major budget bills. One bill gave the President an additional $70 billion to continue trying to unbungle the Iraq war over the next six months. Another bill temporarily adjusted the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) so that it won't reach so far down into the upper middle-class. Two disparate pieces of legislation, but at President Bush's and the Republicans' insistence they had one important thing in common--neither was accompanied by any offsetting revenue adjustments.
As mentioned, the war spending bill (calling it a war funding bill would be something of a misnomer) will add $70 billion to the national debt between now and next May. The one-year AMT patch will add a further $50 billion to the debt. With two strokes of the pen, the debt--which was already projected to grow this year--will balloon by $120 billion.
The national debt currently stands at about $9 trillion. If we divide that equally across the population of the U.S., the share owed by a household of four comes to $120,000 (or if you would like, $60,000 for mom and dad and $60,000 for the kids). As a result of the new legislation, the household's bill just went up by another $1,200.
When the holidays are done and the kids are writing their thank you notes, make sure they save one for the President.